Last spring, I studied in Ortigia, Sicily for 4 months. It was probably the greatest experience of my life. Ortigia is an island off of the southern end of Sicily that is only a mile and a half in circumference; so the 30 American students I studied with at the school were among the very few people that spoke English. Because of this, I became really close with many of them. Not only did we discover Sicily and Italy together, we ventured to other countries together while we were there. While being in Sicily, my life was so different. It presented me with opportunities I never would have had if I had not gone. Cliff diving into the Mediterranean Sea, playing soccer every week with African refugees, hiking and sledding down an active volcano, are just a few of the many life changing experiences I encountered while abroad.
Leaving Sicily was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in life. One of the main reasons for this was because those people I met a short 4 months earlier were more then friends, they were my family. Now that we are back in the states we are all spread out across America, from New York, Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, spreading all across the rest of the county including Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, all the way to California. You would think, (as many of us did) that it would be almost impossible to all see each other at once again. However, over winter break this year, we all met up in Chicago. Friends traveled from all over the east coast all the way to the west coast, making their way to Chicago for an entire week. While there we even skyped with our head coordinator in Sicily, as well as other people that lived on the island that we considered to be part of our Sicilian family. Some of us meet up for a second reunion in Boston over spring break this year. There are hopefully many more reunions to come.
It was such a blessing and eye opening experience to go abroad. Studying in Sicily will forever have a place in my heart, and those memories made with the friends that quickly became my family will stay with me forever.