Foreign Affairs of a Homebody

I am, quite possibly, the biggest homebody in the history of homebodies. While some people might consider seeing their parents once a week suffocating, I consider it a blessing. I am from Natick, Massachusetts, a town about 20 minutes west of Boston College, a perfect distance that allows me to feel the comforting bubble of home in my dorm room. Sitting in the Internet café across from the Duomo in Parma, I am mentally listing things, moments, and people I am going to miss in Massachusetts throughout my 3 months studying abroad.

For starters: I miss my dad picking me up on his way home from work to grab a quick dinner, my best friend at BC who kindly sends me pictures from storming the field at the USC football game, helping my sister work on her Common Application, jamming to Taylor Swift in the Heights office, eating candy in the SAP office, and Chipotle.

Going abroad, as you can see, was one of the scariest, most life altering decisions I have ever made.

You know that quote about how your life doesn’t really start until you leave your comfort zone? Well, I don’t know if I agree with that. I was living very happily in Chestnut Hill. But I do know that leaving my comfort zone has forced me to live in the moment. Learning about Italian culture has been incredibly eye opening, not only because I have learned what this culture expects from its citizens and how inherently proud they are of their country, but also because I have learned more about American culture, specifically the Boston College culture.

As a foreign woman in a patriarchal, Italian society I have come to appreciate the confidence I feel as a woman at BC. There is a bubble at BC, but I would say that it is a safe bubble. I am finally running into an area that is not a guaranteed safe space for young woman, which has not been a problem in Chestnut Hill. Being cat called Shakira is surprisingly not attractive or enticing and going for a run is something one can only do in broad daylight, even in the wealthy part of Florence. Walking alone after the sun has gone down is not advised; so imagine this: not being able to walk to White Mountain Creamery to meet friends at night if you are by yourself. It’s a sad thought.

Being in Italy has taught me to slow down and look around, not be so preoccupied with Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. It has taught me to disconnect from technology. I also appreciate having dinner with others again because not everyone is on their phones. Using a map to find your way around the city to your Art History lecture makes you use more brain cells than just plugging the address into Google Maps. Fast food here is actually not fast and McDonald’s is not cheap, which makes me a very broke girl. Planning extra time into your day for the little things as well as not cramming your day with a million errands is the norm.

The constant social media, text message, FaceTime world has made me sacrifice those little moments you have where you stop and admire how beautiful Bapst library is or how delicious late night mozzarella sticks are. I understand that college, including an abroad experience, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Boston College allowed me to have this opportunity, specifically to grow and become more independent. Being disconnected will force me to come back to BC with a desire to live for the moment. I miss BC, I miss my family, I miss the comfort of home, but BC will still be there for me in three months and Italy is incredibly awesome. So until then: I miss you all.

Say Cheese!

Hello everyone, my name is Mary Joseph and I will be studying in Parma, Italy for the next three months! I am majoring in English and minoring in Leadership and Management. I am a junior from Natick, MA.

The city of Parma is halfway between Florence and Milan. Luckily for me, Parma is home to both Parmesan cheese and Prosciutto. I am excited to start this adventure of my life, but also extremely nervous. I am a huge homebody. I love to see my family, hang with my siblings, and play with the love of my life, my 95-pound Golden Retriever, Wrigley. Going abroad is a life changing decision for me, but I know it will be one that I do not regret.

This program is an interesting one. For the first month, I am living in a hotel in Florence going to a different museum, church, or art gallery everyday in order to fulfill my Fine Arts core requirement. The 24 Boston College students in this program will accompany me to Parma at the beginning of October where we get to take a cooking class, live in home stays, and travel to different countries on the weekend. Doesn’t sound too bad right?

Although I will miss my friends, Summer SAPers, Heights Board, and family, I know that I will love my time in Italy. I will be rolling back to Boston in December (literally rolling from all the cheese I will consume) and will be there to cheer our Eagles onto victory in hockey.