We asked our Spring 2020 bloggers to reflect on their experience with the global COVID-19 outbreak while they were abroad.
When I first came to Rome I was full of excitement for the new journey I was about to start. I never thought my journey will end so soon, and how I will learn so much in such little time. I work at the study abroad office at my home school, and I always see students coming back from their study abroad experience. They come back confident, mature, and different. Coming into Rome I wanted to go back home just like them. I wanted to travel, make Italian friends, learn Italian, and many more things. Yes, it is really sad that my time abroad ended so soon, but I am so thankful for the time and moments I got to live there.
My time in Rome was hard but amazing at the same time. It took me a while to adjust to my new lifestyle. I’ve heard about homesickness, but I have never fully experienced it the way I did in Rome. In the beginning, I missed my friends and school so much. It was hard for me to be in a place where no one really knew who I was, and it made me become more introverted than I actually am. Then, I started missing my home and food. Yes, food! One night, my friends and I were going to make tacos. We went to the grocery store and it was impossible to find all the ingredients. Even though it was really funny asking for cilantro and no one knowing what it was, it was still really frustrating not to be able to find the things that I like.
When I least expected it, I began to fill part of Rome. I went to the same “bar” (coffee shop) every morning to get a cappuccino, and the people there already knew me and my order. I knew shortcuts to get to my school. I knew how to get around in public transportation, and I even had my favorite restaurant. One day, I was walking to school and I just took a deep breath and just realized how happy I was. I felt so lucky and fortunate to be having this amazing experience. At the same time, I was thinking about how excited I was to see how I will grow and mature as a person at the end of my study abroad journey. Unfortunately, the next day I got terrible news. Coronavirus.
Everything just happened so fast, and all of a sudden I was packing all of my stuff. How did this happen? Why me? I kept asking myself. Saying goodbye to everyone in my program was so hard. I was just becoming so close with all my new friends and my roommates. I do not know when I will see them again. It took me almost two days to get home. It was probably the worst two days of my life because I was so afraid of having the virus or getting it at the airport. I was afraid I would come back and give it to my dad who is diabetic and 71 years old. When I got home, I honestly felt like a virus. I was so scared to touch anything, so I stayed in my room for two weeks straight. Did I cry? No. Why? I still don’t know why I haven’t cried. When my self-quarantine was over, my state went on lockdown. I left self-quarantine to start a new quarantine. How ironic is that?
Reflecting on everything I have been through the past couple of months, I have realized how fortunate I am right now. I was lucky enough to experience two months in one of the most amazing cities I’ve been to. I met amazing people and ate really good food. Yes, my experience did not go as planned, but I can say that it made me stronger than ever. I feel so blessed right now to have time to be with my family all day every day. We have not been together this long in such a long time. The best part is that I get to share with them a little bit of the Italian culture I learned. This experience has made me appreciate a thousand times more every single thing about my life. Every little moment I took for granted in Rome I miss. After all of this is over, I cannot wait to see my friends, boyfriend, and family and appreciate every little moment I have with my loved ones. I am so thankful for being able to go to Rome. I cannot wait to go back!
Ana is a Spring 2020 Rome student from Saint Mary’s College of California.