A year ago today, my dad and I drove to Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. After checking my olive green suitcase, eating a packed lunch, and fumbling to try and charge an international phone, we said goodbye and through a couple of hidden tears, I headed into the airport towards customs and the waiting adventure.
A year ago today, I walked onto a plane and found my seat beside a young woman who was on her way to study abroad in Spain. We settled in for the long ride and had a layover in Moscow, Russia where I found my way to another plane headed for Rome, Italy. In Rome, I met up with a group of students from all over the United States and the world, a group of strangers that would soon become friends.
A year ago today, I started a journey to Urbino, Italy which turned into one that I will never forget. I never thought I would study abroad, and then all of a sudden, I was.
Just last week, I sat at a table outside in 70 degree weather at 10:00am in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I was on a patio in a metal chair downtown, under a porch roof. There was music playing softly from the speakers above and the smell of pavement, coffee, and cigarettes swirled gently together in the air. And it took me back to last summer in a little stone walled city called Urbino.
Isn’t it crazy how smells and sounds can do that? It’s one of my favorite things about this world. The connections that we have to memories and moments that stay with us forever. With the small hum of cars driving by and birds in the trees, I felt like I was once again sitting on the cobblestoned patio of Sugar Cafe, sipping a cappuccino while writing and editing photos.
It’s crazy how fast a year flies by and how much life can change in that time.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, last summer, I studied abroad in Urbino, Italy as part of the Journalism program at James Madison University. It was an unforgettable summer. Recently, I’ve found myself nostalgic for the cobblestone streets, the winding roads, the coffee, the steep hills, the vineyards, the rolling mountains, the stone buildings, the train stations, the pizza, and the slow pace of life.
If you know me, you know that I plan things, constantly creating ideas in my head about the way that things should go and conjuring up pictures and dreams of what each day holds. I had no way to do that a year ago today, when I boarded the plane.
And let me tell you, the surprise was worth it.
If you ever have the chance to go to Italy, go. Take the ticket, leave home, and go. The history itself (and the food) is worth the trip. You will not only experience its beauty, but you will experience a different place in the world. And you’ll learn that despite the beauty, there is brokenness there too. There are unpleasantries about life, difficult emotions, and frustrating situations, even in Italy.
You’ll learn that this entire world is yearning to be redeemed. That there is imperfection that we can’t fix. There are ways that we fall short and ways that we cause damage and hurt. That’s just how it goes, it’s not a mystery at this point in human history. And thank goodness there’s a Savior who will one day restore this broken world. Because that is His promise. To which we will hold until He returns.
So go to Italy. Or go somewhere, anywhere. Anywhere that will reveal to you, that at the end of the day, we are all human. No matter where you go, people will share emotions, insecurities, visions, hopes, dreams, yearnings, and fears, in some way or another. And that, if nothing else, is worth seeing and experiencing.
Urbino, you are a special place that I will hold dear for the rest of my life. Thank you for the lessons learned, the people met, the food tasted, the wine sipped, the photos taken, and the stories written. Not only the journalism pieces, but our own.
I love talking about Italy, so if you ever want to know more, let me know! I’d be happy to grab a cup of something hot (or cold) and chat with you. Also, if you want to hear more about that Savior that I mentioned…I’d love to talk about that too.
I like to tell stories through photographs (as you can tell). If you want to see more from Italy, visit kendallimmersedinitaly.wordpress.com.