What happens when you’re back after such a lifetime experience?
Probably some of you studied abroad for some time, experienced some freedom from your birthplace, family, hometown. Or perhaps you are just NOT Italian and not that bonded to family and try to leave the nest as soon as you get the chance.
I don’t know if this really has to do with anything. I think it has for me.
The general rule is that, once back, you’re stranded. You adapted yourself to a new world, you learned to live and go on with your strengths, to be independent.
You had an identity, even if what had been defining was only the fact you were on your own.
Doesn’t really matter.
In the end, whether you were part of the Vulcanus programme, the Erasmus, Socrates, or any other opportunity, you are changed by it, and going back is just weird.
It is weird because it’s like entering a new part of your life, moving on, heading on a new road and following down, getting somewhere, piling up experience, knowledge, just to be taken as a small pawn in a table game, and put back on square one.
These time-limited programs always do this. Of course they’re excellent starting points for many new roads, but the moment you’re back, you’re hyping, you’re full of yourself for what you’ve accomplished, of having finished it all, for having made it, for being still there, standing enriched and a better person.
But what about the surroundings? Where do you find yourself in?
The rest is basically the same. It could be a few months, one year as in my case, or maybe more. Being back is just like going back to an old relationship that has nothing to give you, perhaps didn’t have before leaving as well.
The immediate reaction, for me but for many I reckon, is try to fill up that empty space.
I tried to jump into anything I found slightly interesting, challenging, lively. I went to see a traditional religious ceremony in Viterbo (see the Santa Rosa’s set on flickr), I jumped with a parachute in tandem, and I reached my mother in Sardinia for a few days before meeting my new friend Roberto in his hometown, Palermo, in Sicily.
Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is the second biggest island in Italy. A true natural paradise at 1 hour flight distance from almost anywhere in the country.
I used to go there since I was a kid or…better, even before I was born.
The ferry crossings between Civitavecchia (1,5 hrs north of Rome) and Olbia or Golfo aranci (NE of the island) are among the dearest memories I have.
Summer holidays, caribbean-like seas, and amazing sights.
After one year in Japan I missed Italy a lot, and even I did go to the beach while there, I wanted some real, crystal-like waters before the winter.
Of course this wasn’t enough. Nothing is enough because the problem doesn’t lie outside, but inside yourself. You should not try to force yourself into fitting back where you feel you should belong. That can’t be helped. You’re changed, you have to cut off old branches, and cling on the new, fresh ones. And find new ways of sprouting more.
New connections, new people, new habits.
These experiences are chances of being reborn, and clinging on to the past never does any good.
It took me a few months to learn, but this was a blind, random, desperate start. Staying idle is never the answer. Doing, keeping moving, pushing things alive is the only thing you can do when feeling lost. If you weren’t to find the right way, at least you’d have put yourself through new, potentially interesting things.
That’s what happened to me.
Sardinia, a set on Flickr.