Reflection on My Time Abroad

Written by Rachel May 6, 2014

Before you leave CIMBA, you listen to a few of the staff members talk about what it’s going to be like for you when you get back home.

When I sat through these “town hall meetings” I kept thinking “Why am I here? I’m not going to have culture shock.  I’ve only been here three months.”

My advice for the next CIMBA class would be this: Prepare yourself for culture shock.  It’s real.  Not in ways that you would expect, either.  I mean, McDonald’s cheeseburgers still taste the same.  And the Cubs still haven’t won the World Series.

The biggest shock of all is realizing while you left, your friends and family’s lives go on without you.  I know, that sounds silly.  Obviously people’s lives go on (I used to think like that too).  But really, things will be different when you get home and the sooner you prepare for it, the easier the transition will be.

It’s not a bad thing, either.  Sometimes change is the best thing.  And one of the coolest things about it is you will be different, too!  You will come home with knew experiences, friends, and appreciations.

I don’t feel that different, but I know I’ve grown as a person.  That’s one of the coolest things about studying abroad; you get to know yourself better.

Reflecting on my time abroad is really special.  It’s not everyday you get to travel to Italy and spend 3 months of your life flying and riding trains around Europe with friends who become like family.  Leaving CIMBA, Paderno del Grappa, and all my friends was one of the hardest things I will probably ever have to do.  It’s a bittersweet feeling when you have to leave something so great for your friends and family at home, who you obviously miss so much.

I think I miss Paderno the most.  I loved traveling, but I loved when the weekends were over and we would all get home at the same time.  Staying up late talking about everything we did that weekend, even though we were exhausted from traveling, was the best ending to a long Sunday.

The friends you make at CIMBA become your family.  No one will ever know what we went through together; we had the time of our lives.  It will be hard to beat these past three months, but I think a few CIMBA reunions this Fall might come close.