The "H" Word

Blessie R. is currently a junior at SYA Italy and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Milton Academy in Massachusetts.

As I sat down at the dinner table, I was met with a sight reminiscent but not entirely replicative of the same dinner I would've had back in America. Spread in front of me was a platter of turkey legs, roasted tomatoes/potatoes, and the usual stack of bruschette accompanied with two containers of oil and balsamic vinegar. Still in the oven but permeating its scent through the air was a warm apple strudel, only a few minutes away from being fully baked. 

“E difficile per trovare un tacciono a Viterbo?” I asked. Is it difficult to buy a turkey in Viterbo? 

While it wasn't difficult, they told me they really ate it seeing as it wasn't exactly deemed "traditional Italian food" - but acknowledging that it was American tradition to eat turkey, they figured they'd cook it for me anyway. Before we could dig in, I found myself overwhelmed - not just with the amount of food but the amount of love and appreciation I felt in that singular moment. Prior to Thanksgiving, my host family had planned to celebrate Thanksgiving with eleven other host families the weekend after the 28th with the typical American dishes: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, green beans, etc… while they reassured me that the act of making the actual meal was nothing, the sentiment behind the act of cooking a Thanksgiving-esque dinner spoke volumes to me. It was that day and in that mere action that I had internalized the importance of consciously finding things to be thankful for - not just for Thanksgiving but for the rest of my year abroad. 

A day prior to Thanksgiving, our class separated into our advisory groups to talk about the h-word: homesickness. While it's not a feeling that many of us want to talk about let alone acknowledge as a potential reality, it's one that's almost bound to occur - especially around the holidays. With time comes familiarity which replaces the novelty that one might have experienced more so in the beginning of the year. Once that novelty wears down, it becomes easier and easier to lose perspective and focus in on what you're missing over what you currently have. Whether it's in an over-sweetened "coffee" from Starbucks or events from your home-school that would have exclusively happened this year, i.e. junior prom or the coming-of-age moment of becoming an upperclassman and being able to complain about underclassman, there are experiences you will undeniably miss out on in choosing to study abroad - however, there are just as many and if not even more moments as well as learning experiences you would miss out in choosing not to make that leap and travelling those 5,000-some miles to come here. As much as I miss "home", there's no doubt that I also have one here. Although it's been a mere three months, I can already recognize changes within myself that I wouldn't have been able to experience had I stayed back home. I can indubitably say that I’ve made relationships here that surpass a lifetime: from my relationship with my host family, my friends, or so much as Viterbo itself, it’s difficult to fully understand now just how important my time here has been without the hindsight I’ll have once it’s over but more than ever, I’m prepared to take the challenges head-on. 

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