Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Don't Know Why You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

The finish line of my journey in Italy has almost arrived. It's hard to believe that I've actually been here for nine months now, and I can't believe that the hourglass is almost up. I made it. I remember how excited I was when booking my flight over here, and how nervous I was when I entered the Italian Embassy for my interview in regards to my Working Holiday Visa. I remember how strange it felt to pack, and wondering to myself how I was expected to fill my entire life with two suitcases. At that time I was young, naive, and unprepared for everything that was about to happen.
I'm not saying that I'm not still young, because I am. I'm still a month short of 19 years old, and there are a lot of life lessons I'm going to learn after I blow out my birthday candles and toss away my fake ID. I know that with every changing date comes a new opportunity in life whether it be romantically, work related, self related, or language related. You learn something new every day, and the truth is that you don't have to travel halfway across the world in order to "find" yourself. 
But that's kind of what this year has been for me. Not so much as finding myself, but more so creating myself. I've discovered that I can push boundaries, climb mountains (or ski on them), and do anything in the world if I want it badly enough. I've learned that the sky is the limit, and if you want to do something in life, for God's sake... Just do it. Your memory, sense of direction and strong legs may not last forever. There was never a single day here in Rome where I did not venture about, practice my Italian, and ask questions. Being curious is one of the best things that a person can be, and I feel that I fully took advantage of my time spent here. There are still things on my European bucket list that I haven't been able to cross off, but you know what? There were also a lot of really incredible things that I did that weren't on the list before. And besides... There's still plenty of time to do everything else. So even though I never got to go sailing in Greece or see Auschwitz in Poland, I'm still young, healthy, and have an open mind. I'll do it one day, and you better believe that whether it be two years from now or forty, it's going to happen.
It's funny, because even as I'm beginning to neatly fold my candy coloured clothes and pack away my souvenirs and novels into my suitcases, it really doesn't feel like it's really goodbye. I have grown so comfortable here that, not to be cliche, I know I will return (whether it be during a summer off from university, on my honeymoon, on a journalism assignment or for another year to simply travel and enjoy myself). I've grown not only to be comfortable in Italy, but also with the people I've met. Saying goodbye and telling everyone how thankful I am that they have been a part of my life will absolutely pose a new challenge for me, but I sincerely hope that I can continue on with some of the friendships that I've made here. Long distance isn't easy, but nothing worth it ever is. Besides... We live in a time where cell phones, Facebook and Skype make it easy to keep in touch. I suppose I'm a little more old fashioned, though. There's no greater surprise than opening up the mailbox or digging through a pile of envelopes to find a shiny new postcard or unfamiliar stamp on an envelope that covets a handwritten letter. Technology has made friendship convenient, but the post office reminds me that once upon a time, a person had to actually put thought and time into telling someone that they loved you rather than writing it on your wall.
It's hard to update you all while I'm in the midst of this new milestone in my life, but after some careful consideration, I have decided to also say goodbye to the University of Life. It's really hard to say something when you know it's going to change so much, but as the traditional break up speech goes, "It's not you... It's me." I don't feel as though it would be right to continue writing about the pursuit of happiness and the power of doing something that scares you once I arrive back in Canada. This blog wasn't intended for my adventures after Italy, and when it began, I had no idea when I would put an end to it. I also did not expect for it to become so popular, how many roommates it would break up (shout out to a friend at Guelph University), or realize how many people would faithfully follow and listen to what I had to say. But now, it feels like the right time to leave things off on a good note and let it go.
It's almost time for me to go home now, and I'm going to spend my summer reuniting with the people I love most in the world while making new memories, working, canoeing, celebrating my 19th birthday (July 6th; circle it on your calendars!), and continuing to practice my Italian. I will be publishing articles in my local paper so that I can, as my favourite Norwegian put it, "hone my craft." Hopefully dancing on the beach with good friends around a bonfire with drinks in our hands will also be involved (and if the stars align and the odds fall in my favour, then maybe even a summer romance with a certain someone from home who I kind of sort of have my eye on). 
Not only that, but I will be preparing myself for pursuing my degree in journalism in the fall. On Wednesday August 29th, my mom, sister and I are flying from Buffalo, New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia, a.k.a my new home for the next four years or more. I'm excited, although it hasn't quite hit me yet that I'm going to be saying arrivederci to mia familiga e amici again. 
But like Nelly Furtado said back in 2006, all good things must come to an end. However, with endings come new beginnings, and for the summer, I have some catching up to do. Look out for my second blog that will be available in late August as I detail stories from my juicy summer (which has yet to begin) and how I'm coping with saying goodbye and trying to fit my entire life into two suitcases once more. Keep your eyes peeled, or send me an e-mail at michelle.presse@hotmail.com to inquire when it will be up and running. I've already been doing some brainstorming, and I promise not to disappoint.
I want to thank everyone who I've met over the past 9 months who has changed my life in some point or another by making me think, feel, and see things in a light I never knew existed. Thank you to the people who have danced with me, the people who have ran through traffic with me, and most importantly, those who have shared their pizza with me. The support and encouragement I got from you all has been overwhelming through not just the University of Life, but through my trek as a lone traveler in beautiful Italy. This was my first real writing project and I had the time of my life sharing my journey with you. I hope you found yourself agreeing, disagreeing, and questioning your own life by reading this blog. I know I learned a thing or two.
The ride on the road untraveled has been a blast, and I'm so thankful for everyone who read my work and got lost with me along the way. I'll see you all next fall, but until then... Class is dismissed.

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