The Marvelous Hues of Life Abroad: A Reflection on the Greatest Month of My Life

Written by Katie June 28, 2016

The ground suddenly jerks below me. We have definitely hit American ground. It’s more nerve-wracking than I expected it would be. It takes everything I have to open up the shutter next to me. I see visions of deep gray and moody. Yep, this is definitely Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country. There’s just nothing like spending a month in the most vibrant, beautiful place on earth and then coming back to… this. I shut the blind, close my eyes, and throw my head back onto the chair. I quickly envision the multitude of colors Italy had to offer and my more than vibrant experience that occurred much too quickly.

Red is for the assembly of sauces everywhere I looked. If there’s going to be something I miss the most, the food is hands down at the top of the list. A congregation of pastas waiting for me at every meal? How could anyone not love that? How about the glorious pizza I longed for every night at the pizzeria? The food was everything I could have hoped for and more. American chain pizzas simply won’t cut it after this trip.

Orange is for the ever-so-gorgeous sunset that set upon the little town of Paderno. Leaning out my dorm room window to watch the amazing sight was always mind-capturing. The breathtaking view is something I will never get to see at home. The only time the Dolomite Mountains ever looked better than the way they did under the setting sun was in the morning. The sun would peek over the mountaintop and shine down upon our beloved town. The rays would flow into my room and always pleasantly wake me.  

Yellow is for the overbearing happiness that seemed to radiate everywhere I went. The people of Italy always had a smile on their faces. Whether I was in a local pastry shop or in the heart of the major cities like Rome, the people of Italy always took great care of me. I rarely felt uncomfortable with the people, which is extremely relieving considering that I had no idea what the people in Italy would be like.

Green is for my obvious envy of all the people that planned to travel after the program was over. Leaving Italy was one of the most painful things I have ever done – no joke. I thought it was going to be smooth sailing coming home as far as my emotions go. Unfortunately, I was that loser crying on the plane as it left European soil. Even the couple I was sitting next to laughed at me when they questioned my overflowing tears. Could I have been more pathetic? Well, it’s true. Leaving the greatest country on earth is more painful than expected. And yes, if your friends are staying afterward to prance around Europe, you will most likely be jealous.  

Blue is for CIMBA. Traveling to a foreign land is probably the most unsettling tasks ever. Lucky for me, I was a part of the most amazing program. The people of CIMBA made every step of the way more comfortable than I could have possibly imagined. When I had a problem (and we all know I had plenty), it was never an issue to find a helping hand. From the classroom, office, around campus, and beyond, I always blessed to have the wonderful people of CIMBA looking over me.

Purple is for “Post-Paderno”. Aside from seeing your family and friends, everything is initially gloomy. Life abroad absolutely changes your life, and coming home can be profoundly difficult. Like I said, home is great, but something about being half way across the world doing the most amazing things imaginable is something that will stay with you forever. Be ready for a bit of sadness coming home, but only because you know that you had the best time of your life.

Overall, your time abroad is going to be nothing but colorful. The exciting, vibrant memories you make in Paderno del Grappa (and beyond, of course) will stay with you forever. I promise.