I had a great day yesterday. I had no exams, but exams continued until 2:15 PM on Thursday. I took advantage of my free time by going to the beach with a group of my friends for one of my friend’s, Tahli’s, birthday. The beach is about a 30 minute train ride from Rome and the train ride is part of the public transportation system, so it only costs 1 euro to go. We met at our school at 10:30 AM and got to the beach by 12:00 (we had to take a bus to the train station). Once we arrived at the beach, we met up with one of the Italian students who is a member of a private club on the beach. He took all six of us into the club as his guests!
The sand was so hot that I thought my feet were on fire when I had to walk on it! I didn’t fully go into the water because it was so cold, but I sat along the shore and let the tide cover my waist. The water was so blue and refreshing. The beach was a perfect way to relax after a week of finals, Tahli definitely had the right idea for how to spend her birthday!
I only stayed at the beach for three hours because I needed to get back to my apartment early and weigh my bag (I borrowed a scale from one of the people that works at IES). I made it back to my apartment by 4:15 PM. After weighing my bag, I found out that it was exactly 23 kilograms which is the limit – talk about luck!
I straightened up my room a bit and threw out some things I’m not taking back to the US. Then, at 6:00 PM our “IES Farewell Dinner” began. It started off with the screening of the two movies that our film class made in front of an audience of our peers. As director, I introduced one of the films. I think the students liked our film – it is kind of funny watching people you know on screen acting as people they are not!
Then, the two people who run our program gave out four awards to the student body – Best Comprehension of the Italian Culture, Most Motivated, Most Inspiring, and Best Full Year Student. I won the “Most Inspiring” Award. I was completely surprised! The director of the program, Octavio, said that he got a call two years ago from Penn State saying that they had a student who was determined to study abroad in Italy. Octavio also mentioned that I made it clear that I was going to have the time of my life over the past four months. He commended me for my rigorous travel schedule and also said that I was not ready to go home, which was true! The award came with an Amazon.com gift card as well.
After the award ceremony, we had a dinner on the school’s terrace. The buffet was absolutely amazing. I filled my plate to the brim! Then, we all started making rounds to say bye to everyone which was kind of premature because everyone met up late last night at one of the favorite hang outs for students. I stayed out until about 12:15 AM before calling it quits. It took me a good half hour to make my rounds and say my final good bye to everyone. I have met so many people over here that I think I will stay in touch with when I get back to America. I already have a few people from other Big Ten schools coming out to Penn State football games.
It was very bittersweet last night in Rome. Most of the students had flights out of Rome early this morning – I was only one of a few students who are staying an extra day or two.
Note: This post was originally published on May 19, 2011 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.