Today marks my four week anniversary of arriving back to England, of saying goodbye to my Italian friends and family, and of finishing a period of my life that I know I will never forget. It has been a rather dull four weeks, if I’m honest: when you are taken from a life of sun and beaches, of constant activity, I think it’s almost impossible not to have a come-down. And I have. The first few days were particularly strange – much like when I returned at Christmas, there was an adjustment that I needed to make to my language and my home, once things so natural and easy, yet after months abroad so foreign. Thankfully, after two previous visits home in the last year, the adjustment is easier now, and on waking in my bed the second day, I was comfortable with the change. The greater obstacle by far, this time, is the understanding that that period of my life, my “Italian life”, is over. Unlike with my previous visits, I’m not returning to Italy in a few days to continue my time there. I will return, that’s for certain, but it will never be the same as when I was there before: just as on returning to my university town with university friends, there is a barrier to how much you can enjoy a place when it is a closed part of your history. But I guess that’s the way of life.
Of course, being in England leads to the question – what on earth will happen with this blog? Well have no fear. Though I intend to have England as my home until at least 2016 (unless there is a generous donation of money my way it’s time to take up one of those normal ‘job’ things for travel funding reasons), I still have plenty of things to say about Italy, and may also do some sightseeing in my home country – we have castles here too, that’s something. There is also a high chance that end of September will see some entries on Germany, thanks to a travel writing programme I’ll be attending that month: I will be writing for them, of course, but the articles will be published online and I can direct you their way, and if I do any extra more personal writing I will publish that here. If you’re curious, the programme is through City Travel Review – I highly recommend looking into them if you’re interested in getting some experience in travel journalism yourself.
I’m honestly struggling to know what to write to finish this article. You will notice I’ve taken my time to write it at all, considering it’s almost a month since I left Italy. Life seems to be on pause at the moment. With too little time to find work before Germany in September (most employers aren’t keen on hiring you when you have a month’s vacation looming in the very near future), I am left plenty of free time, yet somehow can’t bring myself to use it productively in terms of writing: a terrible sign of someone who considers themselves a writer, I know. I have ideas for posts, certainly. But writing about Italy seems difficult when I am still coming to terms with the fact that I’m not there. The parting with the host family was especially challenging, plenty of tears and a hug with the toddler which I never wanted to end. It rather feels like a break up, the whole “we will still be friends,” “we’ll see each other again”, but both parties knowing that it will never quite be the same and that we both have to move on: me to the rest of my life, and them to the next aupair. At least we know it was an unforgettable year, and however we move on, it will be remembered fondly.
For me, certainly, it was a beautiful experience, and one I would recommend to any and all. Almost a year ago I was sat on a plane, stuck between terror, sadness, excitement and curiosity for the life I’d left and the life I was about to start. I gazed in amazement out the window as we passed over Lake Garda, hardly believing it was to be my new home. A month ago, the same emotions were rekindled, the situations reversed. Just as on that plane, I am now stuck in a limbo world, between lives, unknowing exactly what I am going to into. But if it’s anything like last time, I will end up with friends from across the world, stories I’ll remember for a lifetime, and an experience I wouldn’t give up for the world.