Day 11

Monday, March 19, 2012  

 Today we bade farewell to Italy and returned to the United States. We got up extremely early this morning, about 6AM, in order to be ready to catch our taxi to the airport by 7:30. We all managed to get through security with no problems and waited several hours for our first of three flights home. Our flight from Italy to the States lasted about nine hours even though we were traveling back through six time zones. Two more layovers and we would finally make it to Memphis, then a two hour drive back to school. That would make for over 24 hours of straight traveling. I expect our sleeping patterns to be quite off for the next few days because of the time difference and interruption in sleep pattern. Last year when I returned from Europe it took almost two weeks for me to get over jetlag!

   Looking back at all the things we’ve done on this trip in the past ten days we have definitely had an adventure. We’ve seen some of the greatest of basilicas and domes, we’ve seen ancient Roman ruins, we’ve seen some of the greatest sculptures and paintings, we’ve done so much! It’s a little overwhelming and it takes a while for it all the information to sink in. I will definitely be going back and looking up some of the things I’ve seen on our trip.

   Even though I am going to miss being in Italy and Europe all together, it is good to be back home! Now is the time for reflecting and analyzing all the lessons I’ve learned. It is quite difficult to articulate in words all the ways that studying abroad can have an impact on someone; I believe the benefits, both long term and short term, are quite intangible and immeasurable. It changes a person’s thought processes and perceptions. Once again I have been exposed to a new language and a new culture, and not just a current culture, but a past culture from hundreds to thousands of years ago. The opportunity to see with my own eyes pieces of the past from some of the original civilizations is truly remarkable. History has literally come alive to me because I have gone beyond the textbook and the classroom and learned on site; what a privilege! I am grateful that I am able to appreciate the opportunities I have. Many a student could have gone on the same trip and not seen the rich value of it or gained much from it; it is not uncommon because an experience is what is made of it. That is why I want to make the most of my experiences. The more I am exposed to knowledge, the more I hunger for it. The more I travel, the more I want to explore. The more I know, the more I realize how much I don’t know. That is the awesome thing about learning, it never ends.

   Now I have to take my experience abroad and apply it back home and share it with others. I was challenged in many ways and sometimes out of my comfort zone while in Italy. There were times when I missed my American conveniences, but I believe we cannot grow if we are not challenged. So I am returning to the States as a better person.

   I would like to state how extremely grateful to those that helped make this trip possible. I can’t express in words how much I appreciate this. Whether it was a financial contribution, words of advice, or prayers for safety, investments like this will affect me for the rest of my life. Thank you for being a part of awesome experience. I suppose it will be a tradition of mine to end my travel blogs with the great quote from Mark Twain, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, narrow-mindedness…broad, wholesome charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” I could not agree more. Europe has not seen the last of me!