My Trip to Italy

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My Trip to Italy

I stood in the town square of the small village. Like any other normal day, people were going about their day-to-day business. Old men sat on a wooden bench beneath a large tree and predicted this year’s crop. Women shared town gossip as they shopped for groceries, and children sucked on lollipops while they played along the cobblestone streets. However, unlike any other day, the whole crowd had stopped in unison and darted their eyes in my direction, their full attention on me. I heard hushed whispers as I passed by the crowd, “Americano!” “Oh mio Dio, guarda com’è alto!” I lowered my head as I thought to myself, “What the hell am I doing here? I’m in a country where I don’t know the language or the culture, and I have another nine and a half months until I go home!” I didn’t know it then, but those nine and a half months that lay in front of me would be the experience that would challenge my views and goals and help shape the person I am today.

My journey started when I came to the conclusion that, after high school, I wanted (and needed) a break. My senior year had been less than perfect, as I didn’t apply myself, was lazy, partied, and lost my parents’ trust and respect. I was a man without direction or a purpose, and knew that college would be just like high school but with more parties and less parental supervision. I quickly decided that instead of going straight to college, I would take a year off and participate in an exchange program. I’m part Italian, and I’ve always had a desire to trace my roots and to experience Italy and “la dolce vita” or “the sweet life.” When I signed the papers to go to Italy for the exchange program, I pictured myself lying in a hammock on a beach, surrounded by three...

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...unfair when I left, suddenly became people when I returned. I suddenly realized their good intentions and how they had sacrificed so much so that I would be able to educate and better myself. I made time for friends, and went out of my way to acknowledge and help people who I wouldn’t have noticed before. I fully appreciated everything in my life, and all the things I had taken for granted suddenly became important and meaningful.

Katharine Butler Hathaway once said, “A person needs at intervals to separate from family and companions and go to new places. One must go without familiars in order to be open to influences, to change.” In doing this, I broadened my horizons and changed my outlook on life. Now, as I move on to college, I am leaving my family and friends again to educate and better myself so that I am prepared to walk down any path on the road of life.
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