Am I a Small Town Girl?
Written by Kelsey V. April 9, 2015
After growing up in a big city, it’s safe to say I was a little more than nervous to pack up and move to the small town of Paderno del Grappa. For starters, I had no idea what to expect. My life has been a blur of skyscrapers, public transportation and traffic jams. I grew up falling asleep to the lullaby of car horns and ambulance sirens. I was a big city girl- and I loved it.
As my semester abroad comes to a close, one of the biggest takeaways for me is adaptability. I never thought I would see myself living in a small town, let alone enjoying it. It was definitely a step outside of my comfort zone. However, there are so many benefits of studying abroad in a small town and I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites.
You are able to foster relationships. Living in a small town gives you the opportunity to become regulars at the coffee shop across the street or the gelato café down the road. I have to admit, I felt a weird since of accomplishment the first time the owner of the coffee shop knew my order before I said it. You are truly immersed in the culture as you share local eateries and tabacchis (convenience stores) with Italians. You aren’t surrounded by tourists, but instead by Italians and other American students. This also gave me a chance to practice my Italian- which is “molto bene” now.
You can focus on school. Of course a supercharged study abroad experience involves having a ton of fun, but it’s also more than that. This semester, I had the privilege of learning an array of business principles from professors with real-world experience. I worked with the best professor yet in my entire collegiate career. We toured companies to put our knowledge to the test and listened to guest speakers. We challenged ourselves both in and out of the classroom. The small town aspect allowed me to focus on school while I was here during the week and freed up my time to travel every single weekend. I had my share of fun, but there are so many takeaways from my professors this semester that I was able to soak in by being completely focused in the moment.
It forces you to explore. Sometimes at home, I found myself getting in such a routine that it was almost mind numbing. I did the same things, went to the same places, everyday. It was easy to be on autopilot. Living in a small town forces you to explore and expand your boundaries. Whether it’s climbing Mount Grappa, paragliding over the Dolomites or walking to the nearby town for your favorite pizza- there’s always room to keep exploring in Paderno.
It’s not convenient. Coming from the U.S., I was so used to everything being at my fingertips. Mcdonalds are open 24/7. Multiple food vendors deliver to your home address. That’s not the case in a small town, and I’ve learned to love it. I’ve learned that things I couldn’t imagine being without at home (late night pizza orders, a run to Walgreens at 1 a.m. to get milk) aren’t as necessary as I thought. I’ve learned that not everything has to be at my fingertips 24/7 and that there is beauty behind a simpler life.
Where will I go from here? I’m honestly not sure. But I can tell you that before living in Paderno, I was dead set on living in a big city the rest of my life. That is not the case anymore. Study abroad forces you to challenge what you want out of life and your future, and I think this is just one way where my preconceived notions have shifted.