Arri-ciao!

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.

I never thought it would end like: up at 4am, half-heartedly, finishing up the last of the packing as I waited for my friend's host family to pick me up and drive me to the Roma Fiumicino Airport. I watched my cluttered desk, once filled with dried-out pens and old Italian tests, become emptier and emptier as I threw them out into an overfilled waste basket next to my bedside. As soon as I finished packing the last of my things, I spent the next few minutes simply sitting on my bed and taking everything in: from the rugged stone walls to the shelves of Italian books and DVDs to so much as the light that would effuse through my window and fill my room with warmth once the sun started rising: how did it get to be that this morning was the last I'd see any of it?

I felt my heart become heavy as I dragged my suitcases downstairs, only really having begun to fully internalize the finality of my time in Viterbo. I remember counting down the seconds until it was time for me to go and I remember being torn: torn between wanting for the car to come as soon as possible just to rip the band-aid off but also hoping it would decide not to come at all because maybe - just maybe, I would wake up. I would wake up and find out that the last three few days were all cumulatively part of a really bad, prolonged dream and I still had more-or-less 100 days left to do everything I was supposed to go do: my Global Perspectives' class trip to Cyprus, our school trip to Sicily, spring break, capstone, the end-of-the-school-year brunch with all our host families the weekend before our initial departure date, etc. From the very beginning of my time here, I knew I'd have to say my goodbyes at some point. I just didn't expect it to come so soon and at an abrupt all-school meeting on a Wednesday evening at 6:00PM, prefaced with the words, "I want you all to prepare yourselves emotionally." I didn't expect to be told that I was doing to leave and even more so, I didn't expect for it to hurt as much as it did when I was told it. Suddenly, the 90 days that I had turned into 3 and all the visions I had of what the next few months would've been like were gone in the blink of an eye. 

When it comes down to it, I didn't just leave Italy. I left behind a life. I left behind my school, my teachers, both my American and Italian friends, and my host family. I left behind waking up to the bell-tower a half-hour before I had to be up for school and I left behind late-night rides back home, passing through the Italian countryside as I fell asleep to the annoying but ultimately comforting Italian love ballads that my host dad played on the radio. I left behind narrow, cobblestone streets and homework over cheap cappuccino at a cafe a street and a couple of steps across the school. 

I left behind my home. After having returned to America, I can say now that the place that my "home" here feels more like a house or a place that I'm temporarily staying at until my return to Italy. It was hard leaving and it's even harder knowing that I'll have to adjust my life back here even after the past six months I've spent there; and yet, regardless of the way in which things might have ended and the regret that I'm experiencing over not being able to spend the next three months in Viterbo, I am more happy than regretful knowing I was able to come here at all, having had all the experiences that I did and with the retrospect that I would feel this way in the aftermath of it all. I may have left Viterbo but no amount of distance from the actual city itself or the people I met there could erase all the love that I've felt and all that I learned about myself, others, and the world around me. I may have not gotten the closure that I wanted in the last few moments of my time here but maybe that's a good thing because it's not over. Not really, anyway. While I'm sad to say goodbye, I know deep-down that this won't be the last that Viterbo has of me and so, Italy, instead of leaving things with an addio - a goodbye, I'll leave with the words of my teacher Mr. Gatti: arri-ciao. Until the next time! To the class of SYA Italy 2020, all my teachers, and my host family alongside every individual I've had the honor of meeting in my short time here, thank you for giving me the best six months of my life: vi voglio bene e non vi mancherai. I love you and I will never forget you all. 

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