Some people have their first kiss in front of the Eiffel Tower and others get engaged. I, on the other hand, was rereading my study abroad closure emails. To each their own.
The study abroad closure decision has recently made me the most popular person on Snapchat, everyone wanting to know where I was when I found out the dreaded news. So, for the Snapchat friends I forgot to respond to, this one goes out to you.
My biggest regret of spring break was checking my emails while waiting for the Louvre. Yes, the Louvre — the one from that Lorde song. Planning to enter one of the greatest hubs of history and culture in the world, I stupidly decided to check my Zagmail. It was then that my study abroad friends and I got the dreaded notice.
That one, tricky, terrible email that essentially said for study abroad students to, "Pack your things, you’re going home. Be out by March 6. We’re sorry."
So, like any rational person on spring break who was told they needed to leave the country they have called home for the past two months — I cried. A lot.
We were standing in front of hundreds of years worth of international art history, and I was disappointed my trip was being cut short.
At the time, I looked just like the Mona Lisa, perpetual discontent written all over my face.
After seeing some of the world’s greatest monuments, I spent the rest of the evening deliberating over feeling bad about the Gonzaga-in-Florence program ending, while feeling selfish knowing there were people who were sick, and faced racist and xenophobic remarks regarding the outbreak.
Genuinely, this entire situation makes me sad. I’m going to miss walking past the Duomo on my way to get gelato (which is the most Gonzaga-in-Florence sentence to ever be uttered.) I’m going to miss my eccentric fashion marketing professor and our frequent field trips to high-end stores. Most of all, I’m going to miss the non-Gonzaga friends that I made, as we still had trips and memories to create that were cut short.
I know what you’re all thinking, "Boo, hoo, a bunch of privileged Gonzaga students have to leave Florence after their spring break, bummer."
But here’s the thing: not all of us are privileged enough to come back to this extent. Many of us, and our parents, saved extensively for this trip. I worked four jobs. Some have been saving since last year.
It was like a worldwide encyclopedia slammed shut in my face. It’s not that I didn’t know this was a possibility, but I didn’t know it would happen to Gonzaga-in-Florence. I had felt bad for the students who were studying abroad in China, but Italy was different and plenty far from Asia.
Maybe it’s my American optimism that hoped I beat out a disease, but I assumed it would all work itself out.
While I write this piece in a Five Guys at Disneyland Paris (a sentence I never thought I’d say,) and reflect on my study abroad experience up until this point, recollecting the memories of museums, friends and lots of great wine, I try to remain optimistic and grateful for the opportunity.
In the future, I know this will be a funny story I tell at cocktail parties when I’m older about “that one time I studied abroad...” but right now, it just sucks. A lot.
I’m not sure what’s to come for the remainder of my semester, but I know I am very fortunate to have had the privilege to even attend in the first place.
I came but I didn’t conquer. But what a better reason to come back.