It is hard to believe that I have been stateside for over a month already. Time has flown and, contrary to what I have been told, I have not experienced “reverse culture shock” once. Don’t get me wrong – I do miss Italy a lot. The food was great, the people were amazing, the sites I visited gave me goosebumps and learning the Italian language was a challenging and wonderful experience.
I tried to make the most of my time in Europe and think I accomplished that. I lived in the city that was the birthplace of the Western World and Western culture. I walked down the same paths that Julius Caesar and other great minds of the world traveled. I chanted “Forza Roma” at a soccer game where I learned just how crazy Italians can be. I lit a candle in the Duomo, rubbed the Boar’s snout and crossed the famous Ponte Vecchio in Florence. I went to Barcelona (by myself) and walked the entire La Rambla and learned about Catalonian pride. I attended a Carnivale parade in Nice, played the slots in the world famous Monte Carlo Casino (and walked out of it in the black) and saw where the world famous Cannes Film Festival takes place. I climbed up to the top of a midieval village called Enz. I had the best spring break of my life – 5 cities in 12 days. I saw the astronomical clock, Prague Castle and learned about the Velvet Revolution in the “City of 100 Spires”. I walked the streets of the city that once divided and then reunited Europe, crossed over the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and saw Checkpoint Charlie. I rode a boat through the canals and experienced the liberal and welcoming people of Amsterdam. I sipped some wine and ate a French baguette as I watched the Eiffel Tower light up, saw Notre Dame and went to the Louvre in Paris. I took the Chunnel from Paris to London where I stayed in the courthouse that inspired Oliver Twist, met family that I had never met before and saw Big Ben. I sailed along the Grand Canal of Venice, crossed the Rialto Bridge, saw a glass blowing exhibit in Murano and walked through the lesser known fishing village of Burano. I walked in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius through the erie city of Pompeii. I stayed in a five star hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and walked along the streets of Sorrento, navigated the hills of Positano, sipped limoncello in Amalfi, and took in the breathtaking views of the Amalfi Coast from a villa in Ravello. I learned that the pizza in Naples was not overrated at all. I explored a Roman Emporer’s castle, went white water rafting and drank from a waterfall in Croatia. I saw the square where the Palio takes place in Siena, toured a wine farm in Tuscany, had the world’s best gelato in San Gimignano and took a cliche picture with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I made great friends that I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life.
Now that I am back in the USA, I am spending a lot of time with my family and coaching baseball games. I traded in my backpack to intern with JP Morgan in New York City. Life is good. I have less than two months left before I head back to Happy Valley for my senior year – the last football season, the last basketball season, the last THON and the final two semesters before my “real life” starts.
Note: This post was originally published on July 2, 2011 in a blog entitled “Romeing Around Europe” which chronicled my study abroad experience.