One of the biggest ideas that you hear when you are looking into studying abroad is that it will be the most eye-opening experience. The idea that you will be pushed out of your comfort zone- you WILL feel uncomfortable and it’s very humbling.
So far even though we’ve been living in Prato for a month now, it still hadn’t felt real. I still felt like this was an extended vacation/field trip kind of situation, and not that I was in a completely different area where I was a guest into these people’s world. The moment finally clicked for me a little over a week ago on one of our trips. Some friends and I traveled to Cinque Terre, a beautiful group of 5 small beach towns located right along cliffs on the edge of the water about 2 hours away- I highly suggest everyone go visit there, just sayin’.
Anyway, though the trip wasn’t too long, we had to catch 3 different train transfers. During our second transfer on the ride back to Prato, our seats got separated and I was in a train car with 5 strangers for about a half hour- that’s where my realization happened.
For me, there’s something about listening to your iPod on a train and staring out the window that is really relaxing and gets me thinking and reflecting on random things in my life- I’m so deep and interesting, I know. Anyway, I had lowered my music a little bit at one point and heard the girl across from me answer her phone, speaking fast Italian and trying to find her ticket in her purse.
Don’t ask me why, but that moment just made me feel like such a visitor. The trains here are almost identical to home (with the exception of signs being in Italian), so I had almost felt like I was just back at home taking the train somewhere. That moment made me realize that these people have their own lives here, meanwhile our lives back in the US still go on. Everyone’s lives across the entire world just go on, no matter what is going on anywhere else. Those people on the train don’t care that I’m American or that I just went to the beach. They don’t know I’m American (okay, maybe they do, but not the point). They just carry on with their lives. Those people on the train have places to go, plans to see people, and my journey through study abroad might be a huge part of my life, but it doesn’t effect there lives out here at all. The fact that I am a smaller than miniscule part of this entire world and life that’s going on here in Italy is extremely humbling and makes me want to take in even more while I’m here to try to extend my standing.
ANYWAY, here’s some pictures of how beautiful Cinque Terre was since I obviously don’t have photos of the woman on the train to tie in relevance to this post. Enjoy!