Gill Mitreuter / Contributor

By: Zoe Bernardi, Columnist

Ciao! I think the first thing that needs to be discussed is my take on the coronavirus. Hysteria and false media have taken over every single study abroad student and their mother. People are relying on word of mouth and false news headlines to determine their fate. Rather than looking at factual information and using common sense.

I am trying to stay smart and understand how to keep myself healthy and safe. Staying hydrated, eating good meals, washing my hands and getting enough sleep.

I think with all the media sharing fast news on the topic, students and parents are jumping to conclusions. They would rather have their children pack up their apartments in two days, go through a two-hour screening at the airport in Europe, fly 9+ hours home, go through another screening and then be held in containment for two weeks, rather than teaching them to be smart and go to school.

Moving forward to the rest of this week and the feelings I have been having, I am entering my first full month of being in Italy. I also have my routine for myself. I need some structure with my weeks and I feel more comfortable with a routine in my day to day life. By routine I mean I like a rough outline for my day. A certain time to wake up and get ready is important to me to feel prepared for the day. I also enjoy planning out my meals for the week. Which ties into my budgeting and tracking how much I spend every week.

I think also having a routine is control over myself, allowing time for work and play. It also keeps me in check mentally and has been the best way to not get homesick.

Homesickness for me comes when I am not doing anything productive or surrounding myself with those who lift me. I am only in Italy for four months and I am trying to soak up my time here as smartly as I can. Effort and time are the most valuable things you can use every day. Making sure I am spending it with people who make me feel fulfilled and happy and my true self are so important to me.

I am so fortunate that all 8 girls that I am living with have become my closest friends. I am so lucky that the people I surround myself with every day for the whole day are those who are accepting and supportive of me.

For me, the key to not being homesick is to have something to look forward to, or to stay busy and to be with others. I don’t have to always have something going on, it can be a small action or plan that can be the focus for the day. Like on Tuesdays I get coffee with my friends Gill and Brianna to do homework. Or on Thursday afternoons I walk home with a friend from class. It can also be an errand that keeps me on track for the week. I like to go food shopping on Sundays while I wash my clothes. The order keeps me sane and allows me to then fill in space with social time. I reserved Tuesday nights to watch the bachelor with all 8 of my roommates.

Having order allows me to have balance. It’s all about enough time to get homework and classwork done while also being able to enjoy Florence, travel, eat gelato and have good and healthy friendships.

I think another way I cannot be homesick is how I am still connected and in contact with those at home. Rather than feeling left out or sad I can rejoice when I talk to my family and friends as I have so much to share and have so much to listen to.

Being able to update each other and be a supportive relationship with the people I talk to at home is a way to remind myself that my friends want to see me happy. That they want to hear about what I am doing and are excited for me to do new things.

Rather than feeling left out, we have so much to say, we have so much to update on that it is a series of happy conversations rather than feeling as if I am missing out.

As well as feeling accountable to write this article, staying connected to USM through the newspaper has made me add deadlines and be aware of what I am going through here. Being able to reflect and see how lucky and fortunate I am to be with such amazing and inspiring people, exploring a new city and seeing new places every day. It is a dream. A dream that I get to share with all of you at home.

Every day waking up and feeling so rejuvenated and having such desire just to walk around has helped me also be more mature. Seeing how happy I am to just walk to class has added perspective for how I want to live my life. With joy and curiosity. To enjoy everyday and small moments. Not getting sad about missing pingo but excited to hear about what is happening back home.

I have so much to see, places to go and people to meet. Why be sad when I have so much that I can do?


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