Balance: Finals Week Vs Final Goodbyes
Lucy, Fall 2023, Rome
December 18, 2023

I spent the past semester knowing this city; its grand monuments and restaurants along with its graffiti, busted cobblestone, and unreliable buses. It is already December, and my time abroad is rapidly approaching its end. With finals a week away, I’m worried about exclusively studying and hastily packing, without being able to enjoy my final week in Rome. When will I visit my favorite restaurants for the last time? When will I say goodbye to the people I’ve seen every day since my arrival? Will these two weeks exclusively be filled with studying? I couldn’t let the answer be yes, and it hasn’t been. To keep this precarious balance, I create lists, spend late nights studying, and schedule dinner plans. 

Lists are my favorite way to keep everything (including myself) together. Only some people are planners, but for finals week when hours are limited, everyone needs some way to keep track of their To-do list. My favorite methods are a checklist on the Apple Notes app and creating time blocks on Google Calendar. I made time for my friends between my study periods, even when it meant staying up a little later to finish an assignment. During the last week of classes, I went to dinner with a class friend from Korea. This was the first time we hung out outside of class, so I don’t regret it for a second. Even if our chances of seeing each other soon are very slim, and I finished my Italian presentation at 2:00 am that night. My lists kept track of all the work I needed to do so I could truly enjoy the night without worrying about my homework, while my calendar reminded me I did have time, and I wouldn’t need to pull any all-nighters. 

My bucket list, also kept in the Notes app, will never be completed. I didn’t make it to southern Italy, Parma for a cheese tour, or a pizza and gelato cooking class in Rome. I can’t completely ignore my classes, despite how much I wanted to visit Sorrento. But there are still a few things I have time to accomplish. Two weeks before the start of finals, I went to a Christmas Market for last-minute souvenirs and Christmas presents. I won’t be trying a lot of new restaurants in different parts of Rome like I planned to, but instead, I will visit all my favorites for the last time, and use up the last of my meal plan points at JCU’s Tiber Cafe. I will someday come back to Italy to see the places I never got to and revisit my favorites after so long. Italy, especially Rome, will always be more than just a sightseeing vacation for me. For three and a half months, it was home.

As the last day of my study abroad experience approaches, I have to remind myself to say goodbye slowly. Schedule time for my last Suppli, my last lasagne at Mimi e Coco’s, and my last Tiramisu. My final Friday To-do list includes my favorite sushi restaurant, wine, and playing Among Us with my roommates. It also includes packing my life in two (maybe three) suitcases, turning the apartment into a shell of what it is, and sealing the keys I’ve been carrying around since September in a labeled envelope. I will miss my apartment’s courtyard, the tiny, inconvenient hallway-like kitchen, and the drying racks. I’ll forever search for a replacement for CONAD brand vanilla yogurt and order San Benedetto iced tea in bulk. I will keep in contact with the wonderful people I met here, so I don’t have to say goodbye forever. Everything still feels so surreal, but I still have finals to study for. I still have my lists, and my calendar, and my parents so so excited for me to come home.

Written by: Lucy, Fall 2023 Rome student from Saint Mary’s College of California

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