Week Five: Comfort Zone Reassessment

Let me begin with a story, because one of the most bizarre yet motivational experiences occurred to me the other day, and I find it relevant to my overall synthesis. So, I was in Cinque Terre with my roommate this past weekend, (I’ll elaborate on that more in a second), which is a totally foreign Italian location that I’d consider to be outside the range of my comfort zone– with Florence, on the other hand, being within it due to my easy assimilation into the city over the past four weeks. Anyway, I was sitting with my friend at a restaurant when a group of five Italian boys approached us and initiated conversation. I could’ve guessed based on solely appearance, but it was immediately verified by their jargon that they spoke only Italian and no English. With that being said, I took four years of Italian in high school, but admittedly haven’t sustained practice since then and I would no longer currently consider myself nearly as fluent as I used to be. I’ve attempted to reinstate this frame of knowledge since I’ve been in Italy, but to my disdain, many business owners and natives of Florence appeal to tourists by making everything very English- friendly, thus not challenging me to articulate Italian as frequently as I’d like to. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself immediately effortlessly communicating with the five Cinque Terre boys, utilizing verbiage that I literally didn’t know I had still stored in my long- term memory. It was almost as if I had unearthed a mental framework that had been rendered dormant and left to disintegrate. This experience, however menial it may seem, opened my eyes to how much I’ve genuinely evolved and adapted as a person since I’ve embarked on this voyage. Call me cliché, because I used to perceive study abroad alumni that way as well when they claimed this, but there is truly no more enlightening means of finding yourself than what traveling to another country facilitates. I beg of anyone who is reading this to, at the very least, seek out scholarship information regarding a trip, regardless of whether it’s 2 weeks or a semester in duration. To circle back to my earlier remark, Cinque Terre is a series of 5 island towns off the west coast of Italy. It was the first time I had gone to the beach since I’ve been here, which was ultimately overdue because the beach is literally my backyard in New Jersey. I promise, the picture I’ve inserted with this post can only remotely depict the beauty of this place. On another note, I’m already halfway finished with my second course of the trip (I have no idea how time goes by so fast), and planning my upcoming weekend festivities. Not to be morose, but it will be my last weekend here, and I can’t help but feel as though returning home to a humdrum lifestyle by comparison will be inevitably disappointing. However, I will never forget the insights I’ve received, the food I’ve eaten, the people I’ve become connected to, and my first international exposure. Florence, you are forever with me. I’ll be making my final post this time next week. Ciao.

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