Stefanie Mandel has been an official CAPA blogger for fall 2015, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Writing for Film & Television at Emerson College, she has been studying abroad in Florence this semester.
This is Stef's last post as an official CAPA blogger where she reflects on what it's like to be home again. Thanks for sharing your story with us this semester, Stef!
- - -
Since the last you’ve heard from me, I’ve traveled through the canals of Amsterdam...
...roamed the streets of Dublin...
...and even managed to spend an extra day in Europe because I missed my connecting flight back to America! (Thanks Lufthansa, you are low-key the rudest group of people I’ve ever dealt with, just sayin’!)
Despite the 24-hour delay, I made it back to the land of the free and the home of the useless, where my family greeted me at the airport with bear hugs, and kind words like, “We missed you so much”, “why do you have so many bags?!”, and my personal favorite, “you smell like Europe”.
Stepping onto American soil felt euphoric. Don’t get me wrong - studying abroad is hands down the best decision I’ve ever made; but I missed New York, my dysfunctional family, my loud friends, my cats that I’m allergic to, my cellular data plan and unhealthy food more than I can explain in one blog post. Needless to say, it only took 20 minutes of being home before we broke out the tubs of raw cookie dough.
It took about two days before the brigade of friends in and out of the kitchen began.
And I loved every waking second of it. I could barely stay awake past 9:30pm (jet lag is real), but it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been home and I still can’t stop smiling.
Before I started my semester abroad, I was convinced that I wouldn’t truly miss anyone from home; that I was the type of person that could fall in love with another country, pack up my belongings, and move to other side of the world. While I did fall in love with some of the sights, a handful of the people, and the most of the food in a few different places, it made me realize that I’m just too damn New York to ever live in another country besides this Donald Trump dump of a nation. I realized that if I can’t go to Walmart more than twice a week I feel a bit incomplete, and if I can’t buy pickles in bulk from Costco I feel like I’m failing my Jewish family tradition of having way too much back up food just in case company comes over. Being the average American who’s relatively undereducated (compared to other parts of the world - aka Germany), yet overly ambitious, is who I am, and I don’t ever want to be six hours ahead of that lifestyle.
Living in Florence for the last three and a half months taught me things about myself I never knew, nor thought I’d ever really have to know. It starts with simple things, like, do your research before you go to another country or you’ll walk around aimlessly wondering why so many people said they loved it there. It moved onto lessons such as learning to say “no” when people pressure you to go out because sometimes you’re just not feeling a night out. That doesn’t mean you don’t know how to have a good time, it just means that sometimes fun is cuddling up in your twin xl and dozing off to your favorite episode of Suits, no matter what country you’re in.
Most importantly, living in Florence this past semester taught me to take people for who they are, and nothing more. I met people who I hit it off with, people of all different ages and backgrounds from all over the world. Sometimes, we exchanged numbers and Facebooks, and other times I learned to take it for what it was - one really funny conversation at a ruin pub in Budapest. Best of all, along my journey I met some gems and formed some bonds I’m sure will last a lifetime. It feels nice to add a few best friends to the collection.
Now, comin’ at you live under my fuzzy blanket in New York, New York, is one heck of a cultural girl who’s got lots of stories to tell, and even more European chocolate to share.