Anabel Rivas from Hunter College, and a yearlong student in USAC’s Viterbo, Italy program, wrote about her experiences studying and living in a foreign country. She describes what it was like to leave home, be welcomed into Italian culture, and discover herself and passions. The following post was edited for clarity from its original text.
“Da piccoli tutti abbiamo un sogno, e quel sogno rimane sempre come la forza di cui abbiamo bisogno quando la vita ci tratta in modo cattivo.” Growing up we all have a dream” Anabel writes, “When life seems unfair to us, this dream remains as the strength we need to get through it. My dream was to go to Italy and to see the history, cuisine, and beautiful landscapes.”
Anabel recounts what it was like to leave her family in order to pursue her dream of studying abroad, “Just like for every Italian; family is very important to me. Leaving home was not easy at all. But every time I think about them, I also think that this experience is unique, it’s one in a million.”
The first time Anabel felt Viterbo was becoming her new home was one day at a local cafe. “The barista asked for my name, and since that day I have always be greeted with “Buongiorno Annabel!”. It was the moment I really felt at home. A moment when one question made me feel as if Viterbo was hugging me and telling me, “You are one of us”.
“Italy, and especially Viterbo,” Anabel explains, “will always be an important part of my life. It’s amazing everything that I’ve learned and the way my experience here has reinforced what I am passionate about. Viterbo has taught me how to appreciate, even more, the little details of life. It has given me the joy of learning a new language, and has brought wonderful people to my world.”