Now that I’ve been back in England for a couple of weeks and have had time to properly digest my thoughts, I feel like this to be the perfect time for a summary of my year abroad in Italy.
This will be an honest review as to how I feel my year abroad went. Doing something like a year abroad, there was always going to be both positive and negative aspects. Essentially, some things that you see on the gram’ (#follow me here @hayley.wickens) aren’t always representative to what’s actually going on.
To put it simply, I had the time of my life. I was constantly busy, so much so, that there were times where I didn’t even know what I was doing from one hour to the next. I was going on the most amazing trips with all my new friends, who I still talk to on a day to day basis and will (hopefully) be in my life 4eva. And when it came to nights out, we’d almost always go out as a whole Erasmus group. There was a real sense of community, and it was great.
I have so many amazing memories from this first semester. Some of which I’ve recounted on this blog if you want to read about them “here“. This semester felt a bit too good to be true. It felt like a dream that I was supposed to wake up from. That dream honestly did hold up for the first four months of my year abroad. Time, however, due to how much fun I was having, went so incredibly quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to people for the foreseeable future.
For me, I think that that was the hardest part of the first semester, saying goodbye. Some people, despite all the things you’ve experienced together, you just don’t know if you’ll ever see them again. I’m so thankful that the people who I was closest to actually live in Europe and have had the opportunity to go out and see them since. Just need to save some pennies and I’ll eventually make my way across the Atlantic to see my freeends from across the pond.
The second semester was trickier. I knew it would be different simply due to how much of a crazy ride the first semester was. In the beginning, it was really weird going to the same places that I would often go to in the first semester but with different people. It was strange walking around this city that I knew so well but with people who didn’t know it at all.
When you’re away for a long time, you do eventually start to feel down. I mean don’t get me wrong, even in the first semester, I had down days. However, during the second semester, my down days were much more frequent. Suddenly, I found myself with a lot more free time and I was starting to feel really homesick.
Initially, I wasn’t happy with my choice to stay in Turin for an additional semester. I didn’t want to stay an extra 5 months when in hindsight I could’ve gone to a different country. However, due to all of this, I found myself in a position where I had to push myself out of my comfort zone. It really made me grow in a way that I didn’t expect to. Needless to say, just when you think you’re done “growing”, you’re never really done. There’s always something new to learn about yourself.
By the end of my year abroad, I didn’t regret staying in Turin for the second semester. I don’t want this whole section to sound like the entirety of the second semester was terrible because it wasn’t. I did eventually find *my people* and from there onwards, things were felt a bit more “normal” again.
Coming back to England:
After 9 months of being away, I was very much looking forward to coming back to England. It’s now over a month later, and I’m only just settling down. I think the only thing that I haven’t fully come to terms with is the fact I travel less. I can’t lie, I do miss being able to pop over to Milan when I have free time. But I suppose that’s just what getting back to reality is, isn’t it?
Coming home feels like a reverse cultural shock. You’d think it would be the other way around and the cultural shock would’ve happened when I first moved to Italy, but no. I did worry that my return meant going 10 steps backwards. I feel so incredibly different compared to before, I’ve made so much personal progress that I really don’t want to go on.
When I think about my year abroad overall, I see it as the most insane experience. This year essentially has brought me nothing but positives. It has brought me new friendships with people from all over the world, without harming my existing ones in England. Moving abroad hasn’t meant losing a boyfriend, on the contrary, I think it’s brought us closer together. It has enabled me to learn a new language, so something I’m able to write down on my CV. This year has allowed me to travel to so many different cities that I’ve always dreamt of going to. During a low period, I’ve discovered a new hobby, which is blogging. And finally, this year has turned me into a more relaxed and confident person, which I think is the best thing that could’ve happened.
If you want to see a glimpse of what my year abroad looked like, here is my 1 second a day video which I *tried* to do every day for 9 months.