Kayla Sides is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A psychology major, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester through the custom program at Norco College.
In this week's post, Kayla shares her thoughts and reflection on study abroad as her program reaches midterm dinner celebrations.
We're Halfway There, Woooaaahhh...
I really hope you all get that reference.
But, let's move on... We have reached the half-way point of our program! It's a shock to all of us; for some it may feel like they've only been here for a few weeks and for others it may feel like so much longer. Personally, I switch between the two. I feel like I've been living in Italy for such a long time and this place is now "home". But, when I think of leaving, I'm reminded of how short it's actually been. Let's skip the water works for now and get to the dinner.
Here's my recap:
The venue was BEAUTIFUL. We had our dinner at Palazzo Borghese, right down the street from the CAPA building. The room had wood flooring with walls decorated with mirrors and red and gold floral designs. Golden chandeliers hung from the ceiling with lights that illuminated the room and all its elegance. Everyone was dressed up and you could just tell it was going to be a classy night. But most importantly, there was a BUFFET. *gasp* Pizza (with thick, fluffy crust), pasta, fried vegetables, quiche, and toasted spinach and artichoke bread... I don't think I need to convince you guys that this food was glorious.
Once everyone arrived and raided the buffet table, Laura made a little speech to kick start the night. She encouraged all of us to reflect on the journey we've had abroad so far and to share with one another all the memories we've made. Aw. Then, she called out Spence (the other CAPA Florence blogger) and I and promoted our blogs. Double-aw. The mic then turned over to Spence and he provided us with entertainment for most of the evening. He played guitar and sang quite a few songs... I kid you not, it was like he was giving a concert. People were dancing and singing along throughout the whole night. Hearts were stolen, my friends. Oh, and when I turned around from the buffet table, I was greeted with a huge smile from Spence and stares from all around the room. Next thing I knew, everyone was singing "Happy Birthday" in English then Italian (my birthday was the day after... I don't want y'all to think that everyone was singing for no reason... that would be weird). Then, Lorenzo pulled on my earlobes twenty times (I turned 20) because apparently, that's a thing in Italy. Interesting.
The whole night was very fun. I prepared a slide show with pictures from our trip so far; so with that in the background, and Spence's performance, and the laughter, I guess you can say that "the feels" hit hard that evening. For those unfamiliar with that term, "the feels" refers to when you become sad, emotional, and/or nostalgic. Looking at the pictures and seeing everyone having such a good time made me realize how much has happened in the past two months. We've all been to different cities in different countries that we've all probably dreamed of going to sometime in the past. We've made friends from all around the world, literally. We've become so close with one another and now it feels like we are family. Whether people came here with expectations or not, I'm sure none of us knew exactly what we signed up for.
I went into this study abroad program thinking on the surface: move to Italy, do as the Italians do, travel, eat some great food, and go home. Obviously, I had more enthusiasm, but you know what I mean. At the time, I thought that was the best possible way my experience could turn out. I was wrong, oh so wrong. Turns out, it is so much more than that. This experience is changing my life and is constantly bringing me so many extraordinary moments that I never thought would happen. I've met some of the coolest people ever, eaten amazing cuisine, seen beautiful art in person, and walked through historical cities with my own two feet. I've made a family here, full of people from my college who I probably never would have met if it weren't for CAPA. I'm learning a new language and I'm a regular at legitimate Italian restaurants. I've stood where some of the greatest artists and geniuses have stood and I live down the street from their masterpieces. I tried escargot. #yoso
This midterm dinner really did push me to reflect. All I have left to say now is that I am so thankful for CAPA and all the joy it's brought to my life. This program has helped me not only learn more about the world, but about myself as well. I've been pushed out of my comfort zone and boy, has that been interesting. Both my appreciation for the world around me and my confidence in my ability to embrace it have grown.
One and a half more months... let's see what else is in store!
Kayla's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.