Finishing My Program

I know, I’m super late with this, but even a month after my program officially ended in Florence, I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that it’s over. My best friend studying in Japan still has another two months left, so it’s kind of surreal that I’ve finished so “early.” In fact, I’m somewhat jealous of her because she’s still involved in the experience. Everyone from my program has gone home by now, and while spending my days in Spain certainly isn’t difficult, I sometimes wish I was still in school. It’s bittersweet, knowing that my year of living in Florence is over.

The end of term came without much fanfare. I could have missed it, to be honest. With the rush of final exams and packing, I didn’t have much time to put thought into the fact that the “most influential year of my college career” had just come to an end. It doesn’t feel over, though this might be attributed to my still being in Europe. I’m sure it’ll make more sense once I get back to California, or even when I see my mother and brother in person for the first time in 10 months. Even that doesn’t scare me, to know that I haven’t seen them in so long. With technology these days, it’s not hard to keep in contact with home and friends around the world, so I don’t feel like I’ve been out of the loop too terribly because I talk to somebody at least once every day. All that being said, the end of semester ceremony was a little different from Fall Semester’s, as it had an awards ceremony. I was pleasantly surprised to be awarded the Award of Excellence in History and Political Science, so Mom was happy!

I suppose there’s a lot of reflection to do on this year of my life, and while I will be continuing this blog until the end of the summer (when I return to Arizona for my senior year), I have to say that I’m glad to have done it. At the same time, blogging is a pain in the ass. I’m not very good at regular updates and sometimes I’m sparse on the details. I use FaceBook almost religiously, so this seems more like redundancy than actually being informative. From my point of view, anyway. Those of you who aren’t my friends on FaceBook clearly enjoy whatever I’m doing here! Blogging was an interesting exercise, though, and I might be interested in continuing a new one through my last year in college. Honestly that one might be a bit more difficult to update, what with the thesis to do and all kinds of awesome classes.

Oh, introspection, right. I’m sure I’ve grown up over the year, even though I feel the same. The more overt displays of this new maturity might be my ability to cook real food now and being able to handle solo travel. I know that loads of kids might have set goals for their times abroad, and if I did, I can’t remember them now. I think it’ll take longer than a month for me to absorb the year for what it was, and while I’m aware that study abroad is a privilege many don’t have to opportunity to explore, I sank so quickly and easily into Italian culture that I don’t feel terribly lucky yet. Granted, I’m still expecting to wake up in Florence again any day now at the start of a new week of school, so I guess it hasn’t really sunk in yet that I’m done.

I had entertained for a while the idea of staying a third semester. I’m very nearly done with my degree, could have graduated this year if I hadn’t gone abroad, but when confronted with staying longer, I had some doubts. I wanted to spend my last year with my friends, not just one semester; I wasn’t sure if I could put together my honors thesis in just a semester, and shouldn’t I spend a lot longer with my director to get a good project down?; could I handle being away from home for longer than a year? There were a lot of factors to consider, and I’d been on a deadline. The various applications for another semester were due in at the beginning of March and while my coordinator back in Arizona assured me that there wouldn’t be any problems if I wanted to stay, I still felt pressured to make a choice. What sealed it for me was saying goodbye to my dad after his second visit to Florence. I nearly started crying watching him go, and I took that as a sign from the universe to go back home once my allotted time was done. The year did me well. I’m sure I could have soldiered through the third semester but I’m satisfied with the decision to return to ASU and with the experience I’ve had.

Another deciding factor for me was the academic portion. Putting the honors thesis aside, I’ve signed up for some pretty brilliant classes next semester, and I’m eager to get to work on those. I’ll have 21 credits in total, including the thesis placeholder course (I have to fill out some paperwork in person before I can take on the extra class), so it’ll be nice to actually work hard again. Take a look at my schedule:

I only have classes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, the last being a three hour seminar with two excellent honors professors. I’m definitely looking forward to my internship with the literary magazine, Superstition Review, as well, and the rest of the classes are going to be excellent as well. It’ll be great to study subjects related to my major again. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a job, too. Having two free days should be incentive, otherwise all I’ll be doing is homework and sleeping. Not that I have a problem with that, but I think my parents would appreciate me actually doing something productive every once in a while.

Anyway, this entry feels empty and unfulfilling because you’d think I’d have more to say on finishing up the year. Unfortunately I don’t but hopefully as the new semester approaches and my time in Europe actually comes to a close, I’ll have more reflections to share with you. That being said, my mom and brother will be getting on a plane tomorrow bound for Paris, so I’ll pick them up on Saturday. Next entry: my trip to Dublin and life post-school in Spain.

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