As I'm finally packing up all of my stuff to leave Venice and come home tomorrow morning, I can't help but feel sentimental. I'm packing up the clothes I brought with me, the new clothes I've worn 100 times because it's so much more fashionable, gifts for friends and family, and most importantly (and cheesily) all of the memories, friendships, and lessons I've learned over the past 15 or so weeks. I can't fully comprehend that I'm leaving in a little over 12 hours, and I'll be home tomorrow night. It honestly feels like I've lived here forever and no time - all at the same time. It's scary to think how quickly time flies and I seriously feel like a different Ari than the one that came to Italy on January 29.
I have learned so many life lessons and experienced so many things I never thought I would. I saw only the same 14 other people, all day everyday. I had a near-death experience (shout out to Croatia for that one). I made amazing best friends. I traveled to 8 different Italian cities and 11 countries. I had to deal with time differences, FOMO, nostalgia, signing a new lease, finding times to talk to my friends and family. Everything changed. Nothing stayed the same as it was for the past year and a half at Chapman, and I am truly blessed for that.
I can't wait to be with familiar faces, languages, currencies, and lifestyles. I'm ready to eat food that's not pasta or pizza for every meal and I'm ready to not have crazy Italian old people yelling at me for no reason. At the same time, though, I have so much I'm going to miss about this crazy place. I'm going to miss walking 4+ miles a day (kind of), the food, the clothes, and the carefree lifestyle that Italians seem to have. And I know - I am sure of it - that in a few months, I will miss those crazy Italian old people yelling at me for no reason.
It's been an experience of a lifetime and one I wouldn't trade for the world. Thank you to the most amazing supportive family for giving me this experience. Updating them on my stories and asking my mom for advice almost every single day got me through this wild ride. Thank you to the best friends that skyped me, texted me, snapchatted me, CAME TO VISIT ME (hi Ladan!), and made me feel loved and appreciated from thousands of miles away. This was truly an emotional roller coaster, full of stress, tears, laughs, and smiles (sometimes all at the same time). I also want to thank myself. That might sound awful but bear with me here - I pushed myself to do things I never thought I could and opened myself up to experiences that most people will never have. I bobsledded down a German hillside, had my first snowfall in Switzerland, broke bones in Croatia, drove by Holocaust memorials that tore my heart out in Austria, and so much more. From my tear-filled pep talk to myself in the Rome airport bathroom to the pep talk I'm currently giving myself about leaving, I am so proud of myself for doing this.
I am sure I will be updating this blog more while I'm home and I know this journey is nowhere near over. Soon, I'll be embarking on my next journey - to intern in Tel Aviv, Israel for the summer. I hope that the question people ask about me forever more is "where in the world is Ari Berman?"
A domani, San Francisco. And to my new home, Italy - it's ARIvederci!