</a> Piazza Navona, Rome, March 2015. One of my favorite locations in my favorite country.
The transition back to life in the States has been pretty hectic as I try to incorporate the lessons I learned abroad teaching in an Italian classroom into my new life plans. I am grateful for and humbled by my time teaching and living abroad in Italy.
I learned many obvious lessons, such as how important it is to be patient and flexible while immersed in a culture different from my own, but also more subtle realizations that have affected me more than I realized at the time. For instance, I learned how far a smile could take you when faced with a language barrier. I also experienced the importance of the kindness of strangers, especially when it was found in places that I was taught (inaccurately) were hostile towards foreigners like me. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to keep a lot of these things in mind when I returned home. However, I am happy to report that, in exchange for the pieces of my heart I left in Italy, I brought back these priceless lessons that truly changed my life.
I'm not entirely sure what my next steps will be toward realizing my dream of teaching, but I know that I will be wiser in my decisions thanks to my time abroad. I don't think I will be able to resist the pull of travel for long, but in the meantime I am glad that I can keep in contact with my host family and all of the amazing friends I made in the countries I visited. Now the world seems bigger and smaller at the same time. I realize how much more of it there is to see, but it seems more possible than ever to experience what it has to offer. I have InterExchange and its Foundation to thank for this incredible opportunity, and I hope that I will be able to live up to the high standard set by this organization by transferring the lessons learned abroad into my future experiences wherever life may take me.