Blog, family, and friends.. I have to apologize for the months of blog-silence from my corner of the world in Lugano. As gratifying as it was to come home after a long trip somewhere miles away from the Montarina, open up a blank Word document, and sink myself into the memories of the weekend that had just passed, "the moment" got in the way. The shiver of the winter lifted, the sun began to warm our afternoons, and the great outdoors began to beckon. Homework assignments and projects grew a little bit heftier, and our free time was spent less and less on a computer and more and more enjoying the company of each other. Put plain and simply, I pushed my computer aside for the last two months of my time in Europe and jotted my memories down in a good ole' college ruled notebook on the trains to and from the Lugano station.
Lugano. A treasure hidden from most of the world, nestled in the mountains of the Italian region of Switzerland. A charming small town with colorful buildings, expensive shopping, and a lake that glistens upon the whole city. In the spring, Lugano was lit up by flowers of every color, the strange trees we described as "Harry Potter looking" upon our arrival sprouted green leaves and guided our running path along the lake, and the city was bustling with well dressed locals and tourists. This is how I may have described Lugano if I had spent only a little bit of time there; maybe a week's vacation in April or if I had been passing through on a weekend's trip. But to me Lugano is so much more than a breathtakingly beautiful spot on the map. Lugano was my home for four months. I know the streets, I know the hills, I know the short cuts home to the Montarina. I could walk the mile to Università della Svizzera Italiana- our school- in my sleep and I have memorized my order for the perfect doner kabob on our walk home. I could tell you who occupied each room at the Montarina and I still imagine I hear trains coming and going at night.
Going abroad for a semester was, hands down, the best experience of my life. High schoolers and college kids, if I could only give you one piece of advice for your college years, STUDY ABROAD! I will forever be a Hokie and Blacksburg will always be a home to me, but in the words of Mark Twain that sit atop my blog, "Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the tradewind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Never have I sailed away more. Since finding my way freshman year, Blacksburg has become my safe harbor. I have the world's best friends, great sorority sisters, a wonderful boyfriend, and a supportive, loving family only a phone call or a four hour car ride away. I needed to step out of my comfort zone and experience a different rhythm of life. I lived, I laughed, I cried, I was adventurous, I was terrified. I paraglided 3,000 feet over Interlaken, I drank beers at the 400 year old Hofbrauhaus in Munich, I paid my respects to the victims of the Holocaust in Dachau, I haggled at the markets in Florence. I drank Guinness with the Irish in Dublin, I saw Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London, I stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower at night, I wore a white and gold feathered mask at Carnivale in Venice. I danced until 5am in Berlin, I walked across the Charles Bridge in Prague, I danced a traditional Hungarian dance with local Hungarians in Budapest, I stood inside of the Colosseum. I drove along the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy, I window shopped in Milan, I relaxed with great company on the beaches of Southern France, and I took a ferry across Greece. I made new friends and became closer to old ones. I explored. I dreamt. I discovered.