This past semester, I’ve been studying abroad in Rome, Italy. I have been here for just about three months, taking classes, dining on pasta, pizza, and meatballs, and exploring the art and architecture scene of the city. It has been an incredible experience; I have made new friends and connections, learned a new language, and have enjoyed living and learning in a new environment.
This past Thanksgiving gave me a moment to reflect on what a whirlwind of a semester it has been. I celebrated Thanksgiving in Lisbon, Portugal – it was a bit different from the large family Thanksgiving at home. The turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce were instead replaced with Portuguese mussels, steak, garlic shrimp, and linguica sausage. While nobody at the restaurant we dined at realized it was Thanksgiving, the family environment still persisted; the atmosphere was lively and warm and the waiters were welcoming and friendly. It was a new Thanksgiving tradition that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Interestingly enough, Thanksgiving in Lisbon vaguely reminded me of Thanksgiving at home. Lisbon and San Francisco, where I live, are sister cities and their terrain and appearance is quite similar – they are on the water, quite hilly, have cable cars and trollies, and each have their own version of a Golden Gate Bridge.
Thanksgiving in a new culture also gave me a moment to reflect on my appreciation for this semester. I am thankful for the opportunity to live and learn in a city as beautiful as Rome, I am thankful to have been welcomed into the Italian culture, and I am thankful for the opportunity to travel and interact with new languages, foods, and cultures.
Studying abroad has been a wonderful experience that I encourage any Swarthmore student to look into. It is the perfect way to push your comfort zone and experience learning in a different culture from your own.