API Student Blogger: Christine M.
API Program: Tuscania, Italy: LdM Direct Enrollment, Summer 1 Program

Home. An interesting concept isn’t it? For the past 5 weeks, I’ve considered Tuscania in all it’s gleaming cobblestone coziness home. Maria Carla, Irene, our 6 person API group, Nenno, even that little biting ball of energy Nirinia has been my family and now while I’m home- home with my actual family, I can’t help but miss them. I feel like I’ve literally put my life on pause in sweet old Glenview while I had a gallant adventure in the foreign lands of Italy.

Pressing play again here has been a bit more difficult that I had planned. Time flows so…differently in Italy and coming back to the kajillion things I have to do here is frustrating to be honest. I find myself straying away from the constant texting and facebook usage and sometimes an inbox full of demanding emails just turns me off technology entirely.

But does that mean I can just ignore what I need to do here? Of course not! I guess I just have to bring a little bit of that essence, a little bit of that cappuccino-long walks-gelato-golden sunrises-historical love I felt in Tuscania back here. I mean, why not treat every day as an awesome day full of possibilities here as well? Why not speak to the people I pass every day in the park or go ahead and splurge on the delicious looking pastry in the bakery window? Why not take long walks and have long conversations and just THINK over a huge mug of tea?

We were all pretty quiet on the way back home – a mixture of having to get up early and just plain old being contemplative. I kept thinking how crazy it was that we were leaving this place and that we had come up to this point without any crazy problems or complications…that we had been blessed with the best trip I could have ever imagined.

I don’t know what started it, but Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” song came on in my head and I don’t know if I was just hormonal or what but I got super emotional – a tear hear or there. I had to face it – this was SAD! Sad leaving these connections and these experiences and all the things we hadn’t seen or done yet…and leaving each other! I still can’t believe how incredibly close our little group became and how much our personalities matched and worked with each other.

As Kelly Clarkson said, “some people wait a life time for a moment like this” and yes it’s absolutely true! I kept thinking about how my parents had told me that this was an opportunity they never had. I thought about the things I had seen and done and experienced and thought about all the people at home that would have LOVED this and I just felt so grateful. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than this experience…

I was looking back at the list of stuff I would love to do in Italy that I made on the first few days of the journey and I couldn’t believe it – every single thing on that list had been accomplished! I’ve learned how to make the best use of the time I have – weather that’s one day to do something or a whole 5 weeks. I’ve learned that it’s perfectly ok to live with a family and not know the language going in. I’ve gotten over the apprehension of traveling internationally by myself while planning, organizing, and experiencing different modes of travel across the country. I’ve learned how to open my heart to people I’ve never met and how valuable it is to live completely in the moment. I’ve learned that when live gives you a chance to grab it, embrace it, and live it up to the max.

When I think about it, bringing Tuscania home with me isn’t as bad as I think. I mean, I need to live in the moment more, focus on the now. I need to sleep and take time to eat meals instead of running on no zzz fuel and rushing through breaks. When I think about it, Tuscania’s really no farther away than a flip of the mind switch…nothing more than a change of perspective.

You know, starting off on this trip, I had day dreamed of what Italy would be like. Having seen Under the Tuscan sun and Letters to Juliet right before leaving from home, I had this fantastical idea of gorgeous blooming fields of sunflowers smiling brightly at us in all their golden Tuscan glory…imagine how crushed I felt when I found out early in the trip that sunflowers in Italy were more of a mid-July/August thing! Taking it in stride however, I decided to accept the fact that my Italian journey would be sunflowerless.

Yet (and I don’t know what I did to deserve this luck!) on our ride back to Rome’s FCO airport, what did we pass by, but a beautiful field of blooming Tuscan sunflowers! Like little kids, we pressed our faces and palms against the sides of the travel van and despite the fact that we had seen some of the world’s most gorgeous sights elsewhere in Italy, I don’t think our silly beaming grins could compare to this moment right here, right now.

Now, off to find another adventure! Make every day count – you’re never gonna have another one like it!

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

You better believe it.

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