Funny that this assignment begins with a Jack Kerouac quote. Kerouac served as my primary reason for following this wind, for living in Italy for three and a half months, sharing a room with a new friend and seven random people. On the Road is the reason my heart grew lighter this summer, 2017 serving as one of the hardest and most rewarding years of my life. Nineteen, I turned nineteen years old this year, the last year of reckless teenage angst.
Home, home. I’m lucky to have had the same home my whole life, a little house in suburbia, access to beaches, parks, mountains, and cities just minutes to hours away. I love my home, grew to love its slow-sun-Dunkin-Donuts-coffee-leaves-in-the-wind feeling, and it took about seventeen years, but I wouldn’t chose any other home. I fear, I think like most people who think they have grown in the last semester, that it’s all an illusion, that we have not grown at all.
But I look to the last year, to the highest ups and lowest downs, and I shed all the feelings. If there is anything I have learned this year, it’s that every day is a new beginning. That’s what being an adult is, particularly one living in New York, going to a school like New York University. The scene is always changing, and you with it. Every day, whether you are aware of it or not.
I am appreciative to this course for forcing me to write. I found it difficult to manage time here, there is truly something about Italy that seems to swallow up the hours. (I guess you must pay a price for its beauty, after all.) Art of Travel made me examine topics I had played with in my head, things I thought about when I reminded myself … Sabeena, you are in Italy! You made it here! (Still won’t believe that sometimes.)
This semester provided me with a sense of clarity, and I recommend leaping into study abroad if you need some of that. Florence used to be miles away from everything I’ve ever built, and it used to be miles from every friendship I ever had. And now, as I leave Florence, I leave what I have built here now in the last three months. These structures, we build them in every city and home we live in, and maybe even in every step we take. These structures come down, they go up. This is what growing up is like, a constant shift of building and breaking down. I think, if you’ve done it successfully, this process never stops. Movement, change, leaving, and coming back, these are all things that teach you, whether you realize it or not. As they say, the only way to not get older is to be a student forever. A learner of life.
Years from now I’ll remember the feeling of walking through Florence late at night, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. I’ll remember that walk to the bus stop, sitting backwards in my almost claimed seat, watching the world disappear underneath me. I will remember looking up at the Duomo nearly every day and going “wow how is this so beautiful?” Despite having passed it every day for the last 103 days, I still think it’s the most beautiful thing I have yet to see. I will remember living in this house, which never did turn to a home with its dirty dishes and awkward suitemates, but I will remember laughing through the halls with my roommate, shouting about the bidet, hanging outside the window for a bit too long until the man across the street shuts his blinds.
I will remember you, Italy, as the country that confronted my anxieties but also cleared my soul. As the country that reminds me life is long and short, full of paradoxes and simplicities. Thank you, how will I ever repay you?