Wow! I can’t believe it’s already May, and the month of April has come and gone. It’s really starting to hit me that in two weeks, I’ll be on a plane back to the States, and I’m not quite sure how to feel about it. Yes, I’m excited to see my family and friends, to start putting into action all the things I’ve learned about myself and what it means to be a global citizen back home, but I don’t feel ready to leave Sorrento, and all the people and experiences I’ve gained here.
Last weekend, I took a trip to a small fishing town a half hour outside of Sorrento. The town is called Amalfi, and aside from being one of the four Italian “Repubbliche Marinare” ( Maritime Republics) and a pretty big tourist location, it is also the town my grandfather has always told me his father was from. I couldn’t think of a better way to wrap up my time in Italy than visiting the town my family was originally from. Amalfi was beautiful, and unlike Sorrento, none of the people I met spoke English. After spending just one day in town, I already felt like I was reconnected with my roots simply because I was speaking only in Italian. And, if I mentioned that my “bisnonno” (great-grandfather) was from Amalfi, I was automatically welcomed into the community with a hug and kiss. The most powerful experience I had in Amalfi by far was visiting the cemetery. I had to walk up 423 steps ( I counted!) built into the side of a cliff to reach it, but it was worth it. I hadn’t really believed I would find any tombstones bearing my grandfather’s last name, Amalfi seemed like too much a place out of a fairy tale to really be the place my family hailed from. So I was completely taken off guard when the fourth tombstone I read had my family’s name. And then the seventh, and the tenth. My grandfather’s name was everywhere in the tiny cemetery. I was blown away; it felt like I had been traveling for years trying to get there, and suddenly I had stumbled upon home. It is truly a moment I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Going home will be difficult, there are so many friends and places I’ll be leaving behind, but I think that those things will only motivate me to return to Italy in the future. I’ve learned so much, and grown up so much in these four short months, and I can safely say studying abroad changed my life, and put me on a path to being a lifelong learner through travel.
Samantha – Ithaca College