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Forever Grateful for this Experience

December 17, 2015
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
As I sit here trying to decide how to start this, I can hardly believe that this will be my final blog post with CEA or that I will be flying home to the States soon. Three months and change have come and gone in what feels like a blink of an eye. I have become so accustomed to my Rome home. Walking along the Tiber to get to class (actually just walking everywhere), traveling most weekends, exploring new places, embracing new perspectives, and being unable to understand the languages around me…which I enjoy and will greatly miss. Not being distracted by others’ conversations around my vicinity leaves me to my own thoughts and ideas. It’s a simple joy I did not even realize I’ve been lucky enough to experience until I visited London a few weeks back and found my ears ringing and mind consumed by everyone’s conversations around me. *Back to my original point* These things have become my new, everyday norms. For these reasons, plus countless others, I will miss my days of studying abroad immensely.
 Dreamy picture atop St. Peter's Dome to start the reflection

I remember the day I left America like it was yesterday. I finished packing my suitcases minutes before we left for the airport and actually bought the bathing suits I would soon wear in Croatia that morning as well. Since I never went away to school and commute from home, when I hugged and kissed my parents goodbye and walked off through security alone, I finally felt like I was entering the adult world; I now had to look after myself. Such an exciting, yet terrifying feeling.
 One of the most beautiful, serene cities in the world: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Those feelings seemed to be the theme of the next week. It took me a little while, but Rome slowly began to feel like home. Little things, like finding my way back to my apartment if I took a different route home, being able to ask for things in Italian, or doing everyday things like going to the grocery store made me feel like I was doing okay. I’m not gonna lie, there were a few low points and homesickness set in at times, but I would not have traded this experience for the world!
 Wayyy up I feel blessed: Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

What I was looking forward to most about studying abroad was traveling; it has always been a dream of mine to travel the world. I was lucky enough to be able to travel to a plethora of countries and cities. Some of the amazing places I’ve been able to experience include: Croatia, Germany, Barcelona, London, Ireland, and Amsterdam. I have also been able to trek around my host country (Italy, obviously) to places such as: Cinque Terre, Ostia Lido, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Tuscany, Venice, and Florence…three times. I absolutely love that city! I had plans to travel to Paris with my boyfriend as well, but because the attacks occurred a week before our trip, we decided that we would save Paris for another time.
 "Yeah yeah mom, I'm studying as we speak." London, England

I am so grateful for all that I have been able to experience and the effect this three-month adventure has had on me. As cliché as it sounds, I feel like this experience has opened up my eyes and has made me see things through different perspectives. I feel I have gained a greater sense of independence and like I have clearer views of what I want to get out of this incredible life and how I want to live it. I have grown in more ways than one and I owe it all to this incredible experience I have gone through and the amazing people I have met along the way. Until next time Europe, ciao
 A Presto Italia!

Courtney Blanchard is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO in Rome, Italy. She is currently a senior at Stockton University.

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