In the states, for now . . . a return is imperative

Written by Jake January 4, 2010

I’ve been in the states for three weeks now, and I am finally getting adjusted. I was surprised how long it took for me to catch on to a normal sleeping schedule. Some other things have been interesting to get readjusted to. I’ve definitely had some moments of flat-out “reverse culture shock.” One of the first things I did was drive my car. After going almost 4 months without driving, I was curious to see how I’d fare. I didn’t do to bad. The way the Italian’s drive makes a lot more sense to me. There are basically no rules, just don’t get caught speeding by the Carabinieri. The idea of the roundabouts and minimal stoplights allows the Italians to constantly be moving. Driver’s in Italy seem to be more alert, always ready to pass a slower car or veer around a group of cyclist. And the way the handle their cars, clearing a passing by a 1/4 of an inch sometimes showed how well they know their cars.

Another thing I’ve noticed, Italy has spoiled my culinary perspective. I don’t think I’ll ever think of pizza, pasta, and coffee the same way again. I recently ate out at an Italian restaurant and I ordered pasta. After you’ve had hand made, fresh pasta, man, it is really tough to beat that.

It has been great over the last three weeks catching up with family and friends. One extra bonus about studying in the fall, the last time I was in a university classroom was about 7 months ago. I spend a few months studying in Italy and traveling through Europe, to come home to even more break, I can’t complain about that.

Studying abroad was something I knew I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to explore other cultures and spend time traveling, but I learned why. I think that normality and familiarity can hinder someone from growing as a person. Getting outside of my comfort zone allowed for it grow and stretch to incorporate so many more things. I put a lot into this program, through friendships I made, the roads I cycled, and the experiences I had. It was hard to leave, because of how much of myself I put into the trip itself. I learned to speak conversational Italian. By the last few weeks I was in Italy, I was able to understand other peoples conversation. Things were really coming together. Three months blows by very quickly, but I never wasted a minute and I enjoyed every moment.

My advice for people on the fence, thinking:

“Should I miss football sesason?” Yes. It will be there when you get back. Check out the real futbol or pick up cycling.

“Isn’t school in a small town?” Most definitely. There is a reason for that. When I was in Florence a few times, another popular city for study abroad students, I couldn’t imagine being able to concentrate there. Also, CIMBA’s program allows you to take advantage of a real life slice of Italian life. Practice your Italian if that is something your interested. The other towns, the more touristic places, will not always make you feel as welcomed and home as the amazing people of Paderno and the surrounding towns.

Some other advice, bring your hobby or your passion with you. If you’re a runner, bring your running kicks. If you play the guitar, bring one or buy one from the local shops. If you photograph, bring your camera. Whatever it is you enjoy, bring it. Because chances are, if you play ultimate frisbee someone else is most likely going to be very excited to see a frisbee they forgot to pack.

All in all, CIMBA and the LEAP and LIFE program allowed me to step back and assess how life was going. The program and the experiences have allowed me to think about my thinking. It’s allowed me to enjoy being in the moment more than anything else. I met people traveling that our 30 minute conversations were so deep and real that it left me feeling like I’d known them all of my life.

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to experience these last few months. Thank you to everyone, top to bottom at the CIMBA program. Thank you to all of my friends and family, everyone has been great and it’s been fun sharing as much of my experience as I could. My parents came to visit, thanks guys. It was all great.

I say study abroad. Enjoy every moment. Take time to meet knew people. Be spontaneous. Keep a journal or a blog. Drink good wine. Eat great food. La Dolce Vita.

Don’t hesitate to send me any questions at I’ll always be up for chatting about Italy.

Ciao a tutti!

En bocca a lupo!

Buon dia.