Home Sweet America

Hello internet people! As you know, I’ve spent the past four months studying in Grantham, Lincolnshire, UK. For those of you who don’t speak Harlaxton, that means I’ve been in England! I spent those four months writing, learning, laughing, and most importantly jetting off all around the world with the people who have become some of my closest friends through this shared experience. It was truly, truly the experience of a lifetime and I have never been more happy with any decision in my life. Even as a writer, I can often find no words to explain the things I got to see and do, the people I got to talk to, and the places I got to see. I wouldn’t change a single moment of it.

Hugging my “little” brother after four months apart.

But now, I’m home. Home in little old Ross Ohio, with its cornfields and its four wheelers and pickup trucks and tractors. Home in my suburban house with a yard and plenty of space in my kitchen to NOT panic someone’s going to knock me down. Home in the land of free refills and Reese Cups. Home where my family and my oldest friends are, and home with my cat, who missed me so much this time he didn’t even bother pretending to be pissed off at me.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m very excited to be back–at least, for now. While I loved every minute I spend at Harlaxton and everywhere else I went during the semester (or at least, never every minute) there’s something indescribably wonderful about being back in the place where you spent you childhood, the place where you know without even trying that you belong. And while I haven’t always been a Rossonian, I have definitely always been an Ohioan, a Cincinnati girl, and an American–even if I don’t exactly fit the stereotypes I learned so much about when I was abroad. As our car pulled into our subdivision, I felt a few tears in my eyes. I may have spent the last four months living in a gorgeous country house, but there’s something about home that you just can’t replace, even in such a beautiful home away from home.

My mom ran up to me as soon as she saw me.

I’ve been told that I will at some point experience a phenomenon known as “reverse culture shock,” where being back in America will suddenly become this weird thing and I’ll have to adjust back to being in American culture, as opposed to England’s. And while I can definitely see a bit of that, such as my bizarre reaction to seeing a dime on the floor, which was basically “What is THAT?”, I think right now all I can manage is a great sense of belonging unlike any I have ever had before. I always thought that, although I love being American, I’d want to live someplace else when I was older. Namely, I’d want to live in England. And while I’d still like to go back and give living in London, or York, or someplace a go, I know now with absolute certainty that it’s true what they say in the Wizard of Oz–there really is no place like home.

I’m in Freaking Italy!

Hello internet people! This is going to be a short post because I’m presently sitting in my semi-posh hotel room in Florence, Italy using the remaining minutes of our 5 euro internet connection to do one of my very favorite things–ramble using my words on the internet!

Basically, I want to fill you all in on the glory that has been the nice, relaxing final leg of a truly once in a lifetime study abroad experience.

We began our glorious journey in Italy, sans any ability with the language whatsoever, by taking a lovely plane (with actual food and seats and checked bags and everything) to Venice! Venice, if you didn’t know, is completely surrounded by water and has no roads. Just water. It was a really unique experience, and quite fun not having to watch out for cars, since you’d have to actually jump into a canal to worry about any traffic other than that of the pedestrian variety.

Venice is a gorgeous city, especially because of all of this water. There are few things I love more than a good body of water, especially when the sunlight (SUNLIGHT) is hitting it just right. And yes, Italy IS full of scary people who come up to you telling you silly things like “Half off because you have beautiful smile” and trying to get you to buy useless stuff you don’t want, but I can tell you how to deal with that right now–run away! They are only going to follow you so far, and the language barrier can really only HELP you at that point. Just scamper off and enjoy the city, never minding the silly people selling you silly things.

What did we DO in Venice, you might ask? We did a lot of wandering around and looking at stuff, which is one of my favorite activities to do in a new city. We did a spot of shopping and navigated the city without a map rather cleverly. We saw a gorgeous cathedral by the name of San Marco and we ate a lot of gelato and other such glorious things. I have now consumed more pasta and pizza than I would have EVER thought possible. These things are rather prevalent in Italy, regardless of the fact that our trip courier assured us that most Italians do NOT routinely stuff their faces with pasta. Still, they do it right and I have enjoyed every single bite of it (even if it’s currently resting nicely on my stomach giving me a bit of extra padding I didn’t ask for).

It’s been a very chill vacation thus far, and I’m definitely planning on keeping it that way. A bit more wine, a bit more pasta, and a bit more sun and then it’s back to my real life, taking this glorious amazing dream of an experience with me.