Leaving Home to go Home
As you step out of your comfort zone, you start living your life the way you want it to be. This is exactly what happened to me on August 25th 2015 when I landed in Logan Airport, Boston. In that moment I realized I left my home country, Italy, to start an adventure as an exchange student, that I never would thought could change me in such a positive way.
It is true that you can’t really say something about a situation if you don’t experience it first: this is why I regret having said I was ready for my year abroad. The first three months were the hardest, because of the language barrier and homesickness. Despite this, the feelings I had when I first came to the United States are still vivid and present in my mind. I was excited, and mostly happy and proud of myself for taking such a big risk: leaving my country to start a new chapter of my life. The excitement of meeting my new host family was huge, those people are my second family for life. I was also impressed with myself for being able to handle school the way I did, everyday was a new challenge: being on time, taking the right bus without getting lost, and ordering food without having to repeat it two times because of my accent. For sure I didn’t go to the other side of the ocean to step back and wait for help. I wanted to get things done on my own, without the help of anybody else.
One of the biggest problems for me has been the adaptation to a new culture. I missed my grandmother’s food and, in general, the places I used to go often to. After a while though, I created a new routine here and I can say I got used to it. I finally found a balance between school, exercise, and friends. I have been here for a year now and I have never regretted my choice. I would do the same mistakes I did in the past in order to be where I am now. For example, I didn’t listen to my parents enough. I thought I was able to take big decisions on my own, because this is what I wanted to do; looking back I know that, with their advice, they were just helping me grow.
I liked the exchange year so much that I decided to apply to college. I am currently studying biology here. I believe that dreams keep you alive and more so the determination that you apply to make them come true. I wanted to be a doctor and live in America since I was 7 years old and, step-by-step, I’m getting closer to realizing my goal of being a surgeon. I had to jump into something new and yet unfamiliar to truly understand my potential. When I had to study for my TOEFL and SAT test I was really nervous, I thought I couldn’t make it since English isn’t my first language. Despite my doubts, I successfully passed them. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my parents and friends; I now have two families and I couldn’t be happier. My Italian family encourages me to never give up, they remind me where I come from, and that distance doesn’t matter when people are truly connected with each other. On the other hand, my American family helps me grow and become a successful person in life, by having a goal and working hard to achieve it.
I learned a lot from this adventure and it has changed me. It made me appreciate my country more, in particular the culture, and I also discovered my limits. First, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because the mistakes I did led to the creation of the person I am today. Second, I became more independent and confident. I realized more than ever what I wanted to study and what career I wanted to pursue in life. This determination felt like freedom. And freedom is power.