In the debut of her spin-off column, Libby Peck delves into the pros and cons of being wrecked in Rome.
I’m jet-lagged, slightly hung over and sweating my metaphoric balls off. My shins are covered in swollen mosquito bites, and my feet are beginning to blister. My bedspread is the ugliest pink embroidered piece of potato sack I’ve ever seen, and my bed is smaller than twin-sized.
Regardless, I’m completely ecstatic.
Why? Because I’m jet-lagged from flying from Philadelphia to London to Rome, hung over from drinking the Italian equivalent of Bud Light and sweaty from walking under the Roman sun. My shins are swollen from Italian mosquitoes, and my feet are blistered from walking back and forth on cobblestone streets over the Tiber River.
As for my sleeping arrangement? Well, I’m probably not going to be sleeping much anyway.
Spending a semester of college abroad was a decision I made a long time ago – probably around the same time I decided America was kind of overrated.
But it took a spring break trip around Europe my junior year of high school to figure out, regardless of the language barrier, Italy was where I wanted to go. The history, the art, the food, the clothes, the wine – to me, Italy has it all.
Of course, pulling out of my driveway en route to the Philadelphia International Airport was when it all finally hit me: I would be living in this foreign place, forced to adapt to customs and laws that are completely strange, with no chance of escape back to the familiar until the end of the semester. I am, in a sense, shipwrecked here.
I’m not going to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my parents, nor will I be able to celebrate my milestone 21st birthday with my best friends. I can’t cuddle with my dog on weekend visits home after a particularly stressful week at school, and I’m not going to be able to make a pot of Sunday night coffee for my roommates while we stay up until ungodly hours to start and finish homework.
I was quiet on the hour-and-a-half drive, trying to hold back my tears and not think about just what I was getting myself into. Realizing that I was more scared and nervous than excited about my trip horrified me. Had I waited 10 years and spent thousands of dollars just to chicken out at the last minute?
It took five and a half hours flying over the Atlantic with the Penn State student in front of me completely reclined – another reason to hate them – and the young Jamaican boy next to me attempting to fall asleep on my shoulder for me to see the sun rise over London.
It was at that moment, seeing the chiffon blue and purple sky coating the shimmering city lights below, that I decided I needed to reason with myself.
Although I might be ‘wrecked overseas, although I may spend my nights getting wrecked on wine, although I might find myself an emotional wreck in times of weakness, the reality is that I’m wrecked in Rome. And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, this really isn’t a bad place to be wrecked, now is it?
Now that I’ve been here for a few days, my nervousness has been replaced by sheer awe. Of course, I’m expecting to have some trouble finding buses and asking a grocer for fresh basil – not to mention miss my friends and parents desperately. But last night I took a walk with a few friends, old and new, to the Vatican and was reminded all over again of why I wanted to do this in the first place.
Throughout this semester, I’ll be sharing with you my trials and tribulations of being an American girl abroad. I’m expecting the highest highs and lowest lows and can’t wait to write about it all, so those of you who are stuck in North Philadelphia will get at least a little taste of Italian adventure.
Here’s to a semester of the unexpected and interesting – and good reading material. Ciao!
Libby Peck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.