(Written on July 28, 2016)
I am currently on the Aer Lingus plane (an extremely large one if I may add) on my way back to New York. Back to New Jersey. Back to my family and friends. Back to reality.
How does one re-enter real life after the trip I just experienced? All I can do right now is blog and look at my photos, with a lot of crying mixed in. At our last supper, Espo said something that really stuck with me. He said that when he gets back, he will be bombarded with questions about the trip, as we all will. However, he said there is no way to put the trip we just had into words. I whole-heartedly agree.
What I just experienced was something I never thought I would have the luck to live through. I just spent six weeks exploring Europe, learning about new places, cultures and foods and making memories with incredible people; an experience about which many people can only dream. This was not just a study abroad trip. It was something bigger and better. It was a dream. For that and so much more, I am forever thankful.
This trip would not have been possible without the incredible person who planned it: Professor Randy Hillebrand. Randy is one of the most incredible people I have ever met. He is intelligent, daring, adventurous, dedicated and so caring. I have never, ever seen a professor so committed to his mission and the experience of his students. I don’t think we were just his students on this trip, however. He made me feel like family. Randy spent months and months tirelessly planning and preparing for this trip, and he did not stop working out the details until they were perfect. Another amazing thing is that he has done this trip before, multiple times. Did that stop him from wanting to take us to every single thing possible, despite how repetitive it may be for him? Not at all. Randy worked so hard so that this trip could be what it was, and I just wish there was some way I could thank him for his hard work. Randy, you are someone I will always idolize. Thank you for everything.
Randy was not the only fearless leader on the trip, however. Professor Morosoff was there making sure our communications with Shoot4Change went smoothly and that we were getting a worthwhile educational experience during our stay. We were able to work with real-life Italians to learn about real-life communications as university students, and nothing will ever be as valuable as some of the things we did in regards to that. We would not have had such a unique classroom experience without Professor Morosoff, and for that, I am so grateful. I also enjoyed Professor Morosoff’s presence because in a way, he was just like one of the students, trying new things and exploring new areas. It was so fun watching him brave out new territories to gain valuable life experiences, and I loved being able to relate to him on that level.
As I have mentioned multiple times, I made a family on this trip and we will always share this bond that cannot be broken. I am not sure how I am going to move on from the SCO in Rome trip. Not waking up to these beautiful faces every day is something I easily got used to, and something that will be difficult to let go.
As Espo said, there is no way to put this last month into words. I mean, technically, that is what I did with this blog. However, my blogs are just a scratch on the surface of the incredible trip on which I just endeavored. When I go home and tell people about this trip, I hope I cry. I think that is the only way to begin to explain the incredible journey I now have in my memory. To everyone I crossed paths with on this trip: the other tourists, tour guides, waiters, merchants, and most of all, my Hofstra Romans family, thank you for all you have shared with me. I will always look back on this with a ginormous smile and a glassy eyes. Grazie e ciao.