This Saturday, I’ll return back to Swarthmore College – my second home. According to The Weather Channel, there’s a 90% chance of snow (perfect for move-in day) and the high is 38 degrees (about 20 degrees colder than San Francisco, where I’m from). Somehow, I’m still ecstatic.
Facing the snow to retrieve my storage boxes and lugging them up the three flights of stairs in Palmer Hall will be worth being back in one of my favorite spots in the world.
I just returned back from a semester of studying art history, drawing, and Italian in Rome. I ate pasta every day for three months, saw the Vatican on my walk to school each morning, and lived a short walk away from the best gelato in Rome. Despite all of the stereotypes about “abroad changing you,” it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When else will I be able to learn about Baroque painters by visiting the church down the street to see a Caravaggio in person? I surely had some of the best experiences of my life and will always be grateful for my time in Europe.
Towards the end of the semester, though, I noticed I wasn’t only homesick for my family, my friends, and my bed in San Francisco. I truly missed my life at Swarthmore. Of course, I missed the big things – I missed my closest friends, the campus itself, and all of the wonderful professors at Swat. I missed my routine at Swarthmore: getting earl grey tea at Kohlberg before class in the morning, sharing take-out lunches with my friends at Parrish Beach, having big multiple hour long group dinners at Sharples, and making late night snack runs to Essie’s for Cheez-Its and chocolate.
What I didn’t expect was nostalgia for all of the little, seemingly inconsequential things. Suddenly, I missed the roasted cauliflower that is only served at lunch on select Wednesdays. And I missed the feeling of finding a booth at Cornell or a classroom in Kohlberg to study in. I missed seeing Izzy, the Health Center’s therapy dog, walking around campus and I missed watching the trees change from green to crimson as autumn consumed the campus.
While some students in my program dreaded leaving Rome and returning back to their “mundane” rituals at their home schools, I feel so fortunate to be a Swattie returning to one of my favorite places in the world.