Meeting and Making Friends Abroad

Written by tracytanner June 17, 2021

You may be concerned to land in a continent with peers you may not know. That is valid! However, I would not waste one second worrying about not making friends at CIMBA. I was lucky enough to have five of my sorority sisters join me on this excursion, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My friendships with them have grown tremendously as we have learned to trust each other; to open our mind to new cultures and ideas; tried new foods, drinks, and habits; have been challenged in the classroom and in our independent travels. Even more than that, we have gotten to experience this once-in-a-lifetime endeavor together, which has been unbelievingly sweet. Through this process, we have learned a significant amount about ourselves, those traveling with us, and the rest of the world as we know it. But they are not the main reason I tear up at the thought of leaving CIMBA. I succumb to my melancholy because of the great, intelligent, unique friends I have met thanks to this experience. From other universities, from other majors, from different walks of life, and with different goals. Above all, I know we have one similar goal and passion: We want to travel the world, to seek out adventure and challenge, to test our bravery and our patience, and to take that fearless leap of faith.

This one concept is what initially united us. Friendships blossom from there. I vividly remember our initial meeting on Zoom… Wow. We were naïve to think we would leave the same people we were when we came. I am so grateful I trusted the process and that I trusted myself to go outside of my comfort zone to meet my newest friends. It is impossible to not create great friendships here, I’m convinced. We were in fact all discussing last night what a far way we have come. From strangers to allies to friends. As our connections grow, I know our paths will overlap down the road, and it brings me great joy to think about that.

This creation of new friendships and strengthening of others helped me overcome any homesickness that arose. Honestly, it was hard to think of the time before I entered Italy, and often times, I forget I would be heading back home shortly. Being on campus and in Italy has been like I am stuck in time and space, enjoying the memories and escapades as they meet me. Being engrossed and distracted with trips and the planning of them alongside schoolwork helped those feelings subside. But one of my favorite things has been to call home and share my stories, successes, challenges, and all! You truly realize the life you are living is quite peculiar and spectacular when you are able to share with people who are not experiencing it with you. I would call my mom outside the Vatican or on the northern coast of Italy while she is at the grocery store. You seriously cannot fathom the overwhelming feeling of contentment and gratitude for being here in this place and time with people who are chasing much of the same things!

Thank you CIMBA for the people. The one “memory” who will stay with me forever and ever.