I’m sitting in the same place where I wrote my last published blog post. The sun is streaming in through my kitchen’s open window, and I can hear the chirping of Perugian birds and slamming of neighbor doors. Spring flower scents are making me sneeze, but I’m relishing this moment nonetheless.
I’ll be home in five days. Home home, a place that I yearn for but a place I will forever see differently after my journey abroad. This semester has fascinated me, and I have learned so much: about food, about myself, about life. In essence, I have done what I came here to do.
I’ve been through all the stages of living abroad. I’ve experienced waves of nerves, homesickness, doe-eyed-ness (that’s a word for this blog post’s sake), adoration, fascination and contentment. I’ve made peace with this beautiful place, and while I hate to part ways with the city I’ve called home for the past four months, I feel certain that I will return one day.
Though I have only published one blog post since I’ve been in Italy (though I did start several that went unfinished), that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to share; on the contrary. I kept a detailed journal that you can read if you want (but you probably don’t). I have hundreds of pictures to share and stories to tell. I’ll happily gush about my trip for as long as you’ll listen.
In lieu of that, though, here’s a snippet of my semester: I traveled to Florence, my favorite Italian city, four times, and I ate at my favorite gelateria obsessively. I toured a parmiggiano reggiano factory and got to hug a giant wheel of cheese. I went to Venice during carnival and ate an absurd amount of sweets while sitting by the sparkling water. I tasted one of the coolest beers I’ve ever had made by a magical Merlin-esque master brewer. I went on countless hikes and runs and experienced nature at its brilliant best. I now have a profound appreciation for espresso and good Italian vino rosso. I made friends with students from across the US, people I know I’ll be friends with forever.
Being the only student from my definition of the Deep South, I let my roots show. I made grits (well, doctored up polenta) for my Anthropology of Food class. I talked about collard greens in a sustainability presentation. At one of our end-of-semester parties, we arrived to wheelbarrowfulls of fava beans still in their pods and plastic plates stacked with pecorino cheese. It was hilariously similar to a crawfish boil, all of us standing around and “shucking” fava beans and laughing and talking and enjoying simple food.
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned this semester is that if I want to go somewhere, or do something, and I have the means to do it, I should take a leap of faith and just go for it. So I am. This summer, I’ll be living in New Orleans and loving every sweaty minute. During the day, I will intern at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum’s Kids Culinary Camp where, you guessed it, I’ll be teaching kids to cook. I have another (super exciting!) summer job in the works, too, but I’ll announce that when everything is official.
But for now, I’m taking in the last of the Perugian air. I’m eating my last slices of pizza and last cones full of passionfruit and yogurt gelato and relishing the springtime sunshine. I’m letting the sun in once more.
(and here are some snapshots of my time spent abroad!)