It doesn’t even really feel like it was me. It feels like it happened to another person. I don’t miss it unless I look at the photos… then it hurts. I guess that’s why I’m taking so long to write about this and gather the pictures together to show everybody back here.
Adjustment back to the United States hasn’t really been that hard for me. I was strangely elated my first two days back (which was probably helped by the fact my best friend surprised me by showing up at my house the morning I got home). I was ecstatic about every little thing, from the free ice water I got at Fridays during dinner to the clothes available in the stores when I went to the mall with my friend. Being able to drive again made me gleeful. Just being in the same room as my friends and family made my face ache. I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. After that wore off, I was just tired. It’s a week later and I’m still tired. I get up at 7 every morning (because I physically cannot sleep any later than that, despite the “oops I accidentally slept ‘till 1” mentality I had prior to leaving for Italy) and by 8 pm I struggle to keep my eyes open (as of right now, 3 pm, I’m starting to feel a little bit sleepy). I’ve accidentally fallen asleep on the couch fully clothed and makeup on about four times already.
I’ve accidentally spoken Italian a few times, throwing a ciao or scusa in here and there. I almost started to order in Italian one time when I went to get dinner. That was a bit awkward.
The grocery store was a little overwhelming. I never realized how HUGE Publix is. And there’s so much space! I could go get whatever I wanted without having to squeeze through and pray that I didn’t knock someone or something over. And they have a large selection and I know where everything is and if I don’t I can easily ask someone where to find something. And the lines! The lines were so short. We got our groceries in five minutes tops. It was incredible.
Traffic, too, is quite different here. I never drove while I was in Europe, but the traffic here is unbelievably tame. I used to complain about Florida’s driving (especially in Gainesville, where many people seem to think that a turn signal is optional) but now United States driving seems almost excessively orderly.
As for some of the good things, I’ve been more confident, I’ve noticed. Talking on the phone used to be an issue, but now I have no problem. If I need to call and arrange something— for example, attempting to track down missing luggage—I have no problem getting on the phone and calling, whereas before I used to be very anxious. I feel like more of an adult, which is cool.
I don’t think the reality of my situation has hit me. It’s been seven weeks now and I’ve been to Italy and back and it still hasn’t hit me how far I’ve gone. Like I said, it feels like it was someone else. It was like another version of me in another life. It doesn’t feel real.
I guess this is where I’m supposed to wrap it up and give you my parting thoughts. My advice to everyone is this; if you have the chance, do it. I don’t care if it requires some financial acrobatics or some schedule contorting, find some way to make the time and money and travel where you want to go. It will give you a new perspective. It will show you how big the world truly is. It will change you.
So to all of those who have been following me on my journey: thank you so very much for reading and I’m sorry I didn’t post more often. I hope that one day you, too, get the chance to go out and see something as wonderful as I have (and if you do, don’t bring an American Express… it was practically useless everywhere but America).
All my love,