ISTITUTO STATALE "Eugenio Montale" - PONTEDERA (Pi)
When I left my home in Canada three months ago, I wasnt really sure what I was getting myself into. Sure I was excited, for months I had been counting down the days until my departure, trying to imagine what my new life here would be like. I couldnt help but be a little boastful, and I loved it when the topic of conversation among my friends turned to " What are you doing after grad?" and I could answer, " Oh, just going to Italy". Everything about the concept thrilled me and there was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life. The fact that I really didnt know much about Italy and that my Italian vocabulary went about as far as "Pizza", "Pasta" and "Cappuccino" didnt bother me, Id learn. Even with this positive outlook, as soon as my plane started leaving the airport in Vancouver, all these feelings of excitement became clouded over with thoughts of fear, anxiety and sadness. Here I was, 18 years old, leaving my family, friends and everything Id ever known to go live halfway across the world with people I didnt know in a country where I couldnt even speak the language, was I crazy?!
During my first week here I thought for sure Id made a mistake. Dont get me wrong, Italy was perfect: beautiful, warm, full of history and culture, not to mention the great food. My family was wonderful too, very thoughtful and caring. I couldnt have asked for more, and yet there was this hole in me, this longing for something familiar. I missed my family, my friends, everything. I kept telling myself not to worry, that Id be home soon, but it was of little comfort and I found that now, rather than counting the days till I left for Italy, I was counting down till I could return home.
Although these first few days were quite difficult, something enabled me to hold on. Somewhere amongst all the voices of doubt echoing in my head, was a voice of hope and encouragement that made me realise that I could do this. Im not exactly sure when it happened, but before long I found that I had started to settle in. I began feeling more comfortable in my new surroundings and started meeting new people and making new friends. One Day, after school, I grabbed my bag, ready to go home when I suddenly realised that when I said "home" I was no longer referring to my home in Canada, but my new home here in Italy. That yearning to be back in Canada had subsided, and that hole that at one time seemed as if it would swallow me whole had been filled to overflowing by all the warm, caring people Id met, and the amazing experiences Id had.
Now those hours that used to seem to last forever have turned to days, those days to weeks and those weeks to months. It is so hard for me to fathom the idea that Ive already been here three months, and yet looking back on those months I realise that the things I have already accomplished and experienced are more than many people do in a lifetime. I am very grateful for having been given this opportunity as it has embraced me with more new and wonderful people, places and experiences, then I ever could have imagined. These past three months have been amazing, thank you everyone.