Celebrating a holiday abroad has been one of my favorite parts of my abroad experience. It is difficult because I miss celebrating with my family and friends from home, but getting my new friends from school to celebrate with me really helps. I celebrated Halloween and my twenty-first birthday while abroad so far and plan on having Friendsgiving with my group of friends from SAI. While my birthday isn’t a holiday, it was one of the only times I have been extremely homesick. This is why I am including it in celebrating a holiday.
My favorite holiday is Halloween! I love that everyone can dress up as wacky, creepy, or crazy as they want. It is a time where you are someone else while being completely yourself all at the same time. I already have the crazy hair color, so building a costume off of that isn’t that difficult. Unfortunately, Halloween is not a popular holiday in Italy. I was in Dublin a few days before and people were running around the city in costumes of all kinds. It was refreshing to see how much other people love Halloween as well.
My friends and I decided no matter what, we would celebrate the holiday even though it lacks the same popularity in Florence. I dressed up for two days using my green hair as the basis for my costume. Being a Halloween classic I thought dressing as Beetlejuice was the perfect costume! I bought a cheap striped shirt and borrowed black lipstick from a friend. On the actual night of Halloween I was dressed as the Joker from the movie Suicide Squad. I wore the same shirt and just added a purple tie. Makeup really completed the costume, I drew the tattoos he has onto my body with some help. My roommates and I went out around town meeting up with some of our other friends. It became abundantly apparent only the American students were celebrating the holiday, but we didn’t care. One of the highlights of the night was when I ran into a girl dressed as Harley Quinn. I had never met this girl but we took a picture together and had a great time.
For my twenty-first birthday, I was in Rome on a school trip with some of my friends from back home, and my friends from Florence helped me celebrate two days earlier. All of my friends in Florence came to my apartment for a potluck where they all made food I can eat since I have food allergies. It was great to be surrounded by my friends eating yummy food that wouldn’t make me sick. On my actual birthday I toured the Vatican Museums and went to dinner with my friends from home. I became homesick when I received phone calls from my family. It is the first time I haven’t seen any of my family at least a few days before my birthday. My friends did a great job of taking my mind off of it and took me to a great gluten free restaurant. Even though I wish I had seen my family, I know we will celebrate when I get home. It is pretty amazing though to be able to say I celebrated my twenty-first in Rome!
Alexa is a fall 2017 SAI Rome student from St. Mary’s College of California.