Home is where the heart is.

Written by Natalie December 31, 2014

As myself and a few other CIMBians made our last trip of the semester to the Venice Marco Polo Airport together, it felt like any other weekend adventure. I didn’t truly grasp that I wouldn’t be arriving back on campus in Paderno del Grappa anytime soon until I was going through customs back in the states. And even then, it didn’t seem like I was back home to stay. But there I was being greeted by my loving family… home sweet home.

It’s hard to put into words how much I actually learned throughout the three months I spent at CIMBA. It’s much easier to see, after the fact, that I truly was living the dream. I knew I was living the dream, yet now I am more appreciative than ever. Every day I was surrounded by amazing friends, I was learning new and innovative things, and every weekend was spent traveling to new countries and cities all around Europe. How often does a twenty-year-old get the opportunity to do that?

Of course, like most study abroad students will say, traveling was my favorite. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, my heart is happiest when I’m traveling. Hopping on a plane and going to a new country is something I never pictured to be as easy as it was, but I am so incredibly thankful for it. Studying abroad allowed me to toast with Germans (and others) at Oktoberfest, cliff dive into the ocean in Cinque Terre, kiss the Blarney Stone once again in Ireland, paraglide off of a mountain in good ole PdG, and see masterpieces from the past at the Louvre. And these are just a fraction of the wonders of the world that I got to see first-hand during my semester abroad.

But there are smaller, more everyday things that I am also so thankful for. Meeting friends and spending almost every waking hour with them, until the very end. Networking with professors and staff members from the many different corners of the world. And of course, experiencing the culture of living in a new and unfamiliar place. You learn a lot when you step outside of your comfort zone, and you learn a lot when you stay in it. There are pros and cons to both that you learn along the way.

While all of the above is true and I will always cherish the absolutely wonderful memories, being back in America is a small reminder of what I had previously taken for granted. The freedom to eat whenever I please, the convenience of having my own form of transportation, and the ability to talk to my family and friends in an instant.

I have continued to learn, even as I have reacclimatized back into the American lifestyle. Surprisingly enough, reverse culture shock is a thing. I’ve experienced it most with being in crowded places — a restaurant for instance — and actually being able to understand what is going on and being said around me. I very much miss listening to the Italian language being spoken around me. Another something I had to overcome was getting back onto a normal sleep schedule. Luckily when I was awake at 4am in the morning, so were my fellow CIMBians and we all cursed the time change as a collective group.

It’s been a pleasure blogging my experiences and adventures here, and it’s truly bittersweet that I’m finishing up my very last post. But don’t worry I’ll be back to read these posts and reminisce on this wonderful adventure of mine, as well as to read future CIMBA blogs!

Keep exploring, my friends.

Ci vediamo,