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Missing Europe but off to Asia

Missing Europe but off to Asia


I guess the pizza and wine days are over for now. I’m off to Asia, Vietnam to be more exact, in less than a week. Although it is nice to be home and back on familiar (comfortable?) soil, I miss being able to take the bus down the hill of Monte Mario, past the Vatican and street vendors, off to do nothing in particular. It’s so strange to drive around town and not see old churches designed by Bernini or Carlo Maderno. It’s even more strange not to see the  same people every day, both strangers and friends alike. Now I’m back home, afraid to leave the house in fear of running into someone and having to make dreadful small talk. I can’t just say how much Rome meant to me or that I wasn’t ready to come back yet. Even worse, how could I accurately portray the changes I’ve made this past semester? Do people just assume you’ve matured and learned more about yourself if you’ve studied abroad? How do you connect with people who weren’t there along with you? I guess that’s part of the challenge of going abroad, being able to combine the old with the new and continue on with every day life. I think that is the part of studying abroad that requires the most strength; the life you make for yourself afterwards. I think all of us ‘Roam-ers’ are having a hard time getting back to the real world, where people eat Papa John’s and you have to pay an arm or a leg for a decent bottle of wine. No more $5 bottles. We also have to somehow be this new person that developed over seas. It would be almost worse to regress to how we were before the trip … to have the same regrets, grudges and intolerances.

While I miss Rome and my friends, I am lucky that my adventures aren’t over. Vietnam is just around the corner and it’s going to be another life altering experience. Of course, like in Rome, there will certainly be difficulties. I will miss my family and friends. I will miss Chicago as winter deepens and then warms. But this is a good time to venture out into the mysteries of the world and to learn about other people, thus yourself. Being off on your own is nothing but good for you, as you learn your own strength but also how others are necessary in their own way. You also begin to forget people who were never really your friends, realizing how important it is to maintain the healthy relationships instead of focusing on revitalizing poisonous ones.

It’s good to be home. Yet, it’s good to be away. I think I’ll be surprised by how much I’ve grown this year, when my two trips are at a close. I can’t wait to meet more enriching people, just like I did in Europe. I hope I’ll meet someone else like Joel, the man from the Congo who drove me to Brussels. Maybe I’ll meet a new hiking partner, like Sandy, who told me about her husband who had been in a horrible car crash and how she had been taking care of him for years. Meeting people with completely different backgrounds make other cultures and ways of life real.  Civil wars become real when you meet someone whose parents are in the midst of it. I bet you wouldn’t know that Joel had memories of singing The Spice Girls in his childhood village in the Congo. All of these things I believe can only be learned whilst abroad. Nothing else can give you that kind of perspective. It’s never a bad thing to have more than one.


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