Parting is such sweet sorrow

In a matter of hours I will be on a plane home.

That’s crazy. How on earth did we get to this point so soon?!

There were a few times today that I felt like crying. And yet, at the same time I felt like I was on the brink of some grand adventure, despite the fact that this one was coming to an end. I don’t want to leave this place, these people–and yet, something inside me tells me that something big is coming. Does that even make sense? I think part of this comes from the fact that I am in love with fantasy novels, which always feature an epic quest. I want to go on an epic quest.

We went out for dinner together tonight. All 15 of us, for the last time. Oh, how much we laughed around that table! Caleb managed to fool half of us into believing some story he made up on the spot, and then we traded ghost stories/bizarre happenings/creepy occurrences. I had my last marinara pizza and tiramisu :(

This semester has been one of the best times of my life. I am leaving Rome a changed–and hopefully better–person. I have forged relationships that will not fade with time, and made memories that will not easily be forgotten. I have lived in a foreign land and become a part of a culture quite different from my own. God has taught me so much about himself and about myself. Though it makes my heart ache to leave behind this home I’ve made, I look forward to all that God has in store for me. What was it that C.S. Lewis said in The Last Battle? “Further up and further in!” Here’s to a grand adventure.

Gone into workout mode

Want to know the secret to burning major calories and toning your legs? Climb the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica. 551 steps to the top. And they aren’t all regular steps, either. You have wide, shallow steps that seem more like a bumpy ramp as well.

***DISCLAIMER***¬†If you are claustrophobic, have trouble breathing, or have a weak heart, DO NOT MAKE THIS CLIMB. Wipe the idea from your mind right now. I swear my heart and lungs and legs almost gave out on me, and that would not have been a good thing, especially with the way my heart is… I was pretty sure, especially on the descent and my legs felt like jelly, that I was going to fall forward onto Megan and Joe. Thank goodness that didn’t happen :)

So much happened today. It’s sad because tomorrow is our last full day in Rome before our 10 HOUR FLIGHT on Wednesday back to the States. Kristen and Dr. Szabo made dinner for us–a good breakfast meal with absolutely no leftovers–and then our amazing R.A. Caleb had us do something really cool with a bunch of Italian flags… After that Kristen showed us a movie she’d put together using pictures from the entire semester. Oh, how we laughed as we remembered all the good times we had! The thought of leaving all of this behind makes my heart ache :(

I got a lot of my packing done. Thanks to my amazingly awesome roommate Kylie, who offered to take a few of my things in her bag, I will be able to get everything home!! There are still a couple things that I’ll be throwing in tomorrow, but I’m confident that it’ll work out. Seeing the room bare of decorations and a closet devoid of clothes makes me sad because it really brings home the reality of departure :( Not that I’m not looking forward to being home again, but I wish I could stay.

Tomorrow is it. We have our final with Lucy at 10:30, and after that we will be cleaning our rooms, packing the last of our things, doing some last-minute shopping, and trying to soak up as much of Rome and everything in it before we leave. How did this come so quickly?!

God, thank you for the crazy wonderful day we had. Please ease our troubles as we deal with a final test and saying goodbye to the city we’ve come to love so much. Be our comfort and peace in hard times.

Where has the time gone?!

We’re down to the wire now. As of right now, we have two days before we have to get up in the wee hours of the morning to catch a shuttle to Fiumicino. And what do we still have to do? Well, you know, presentations on the digital galleries we’ve been slaving over the whole semester, a final in Italian that I hope won’t be too hard… you know, the usual finals week stuff :)

It’s hard to believe that I’ll be home in just a few days. Crazy how I really want to be back in the States with all my family and friends–and have Wal-mart, a car, and snow–and yet I wish I didn’t have to leave. I’ve come to love this city. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve been, the food I’ve eaten–am I really leaving it all behind on Wednesday? And, most importantly, our group is being broken up. You have no idea (or maybe a slight one) of how we’ve bonded over the past three months. It brings a tear to my eye when I realize that we’ll never be together like this again :( If there’s any silver lining to that dark cloud, t least now I have an excuse to visit Chicago!

What helped me realize that I’m actually leaving was standing up in church today. You see, at the end of every service, Pastor Dave has everyone who’s been to the church for the first time stand up and introduce themselves. In the same way, he then asks you to stand if it’s your last time at the church. Today was our turn to do so. He gave us a sweet farewell, inviting us to come back to Rome when we’re able :) I certainly hope to do so. It was kind of disappointing because there were a few people who weren’t in church today that I wanted to say goodbye to (Peppo & Jane!), but it’s okay. I’ll see them again someday.

Father, what a bittersweet time for us! To long for home and yet feel like we’re leaving home all at the same time. Be our comfort and peace as we finish our last couple days here and go home. I ask that you make our transition as easy as possible. Let everything we think and say and do bring glory to you.

No room in the inn… or the bag

This has been one crazy weekend, I’ll tell you what. Kylie and I have slept late the past two mornings, and it’s felt pretty good! However, the only downside to sleeping late is that you lose time to do other stuff, like spend time with your friends whom you will be leaving in a few days after you get back to the States…

In case my title didn’t clue you in, I started packing this afternoon. I really don’t think I’ll have enough room in my bags for everyone. I don’t even care about the weight limit anymore–I just want everything to fit! I had no idea how much stuff I have bought while I’ve been here. And there are still a few gifts I had in mind for people… Anyway, with a bit of luck and leaving some clothes behind, I should be able to make it all work out :)

This weekend has also been the time for movies. We saw The Tiger In the Snow on Thursday for Italian cinema (our last film for that class!), then Kylie and Megan and I watched Elf in our room last night (which was a blast–love that movie!), and tonight a bunch of us watched Miracle on 34th Street (the remake, not the original, which I’ve never seen, sad to say). Thinking about all of this makes me remember the movie date I have planned with my sister next weekend for The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader :)

I’m anxious to get home. I really miss my family and friends :( Of course, I found out from my mom today that the day I come home, my sister Stephanie has to work, and my sister Christina has basketball practice! What on earth is this?! It’s not fair :( I think I’m a good enough reason for them not to go. I mean, their coaches will understand that they haven’t seen their big sister at all for three months, right? I think it’s a perfectly good excuse :)

God, please grant us your safety and protection as we fly home on Wednesday. May our flight be smooth and fast, and help us deal with jet lag when we get home. Thank you for what you’ve done in our lives this semester.

Shout-out from the Pope

Guess who saw the Pope today? That’s right–yours truly. A general papal audience with cardinals/bishops who spoke Italian, French, English, Spanish, German, and another language that I think might have been¬†Portuguese…

So yeah. Geneva College Rome got a shout-out. From the Pope. Okay, so it was from the bishop/cardinal guy. See, for each language group, the guy would announce the people in the audience who spoke that language. Thus, when the English guy spoke, he announced, “Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, Rome campus”! It was so much fun, especially since it was so unexpected! That’s seriously legit. Geneva College is on the Pope’s radar now. Better watch out :)

That was the highlight of my day, even if I did have to get up at an unearthly hour to get to the Vatican before the place filled up. I also watched The Devil Wears Prada the whole way through for the first time. Anne Hathaway’s pretty cool, and Meryl Streep tops my list of all-time favorite actresses :) As I watched it, I was thinking it would be fun to have all those stylish outfits, especially the purses…

I also finished watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You see, I’ve been having trouble with it, as I have to watch it online because it’s not here in DVD form. I guess the links I’ve been using weren’t too good, because I’d get halfway through and then it would freeze, no matter how much it said it was loaded. Today, though, I finally found a link that works! Yay! Now I just need to grab Rebekah and discuss it :)

We had to watch this really weird film for Italian tonight. I can’t remember the title, but it was about this group of Italian teenagers who are about to take their final exams to graduate high school. The movie basically follows them in the two weeks before the exams, studying, fooling around, stressing, falling in love, getting pregnant… you know, the usual pre-exam stuff. Though Lucy warned us about the language and the nudity, I think we were all shocked by the content of this film, though some of it was funny. Why, Lucy? I feel like this wasn’t necessary.

God, we’re starting to feel overwhelmed with everything we want and need to do before we go home. Give us the strength and endurance to do our work well, and let us have a good last week.

If all the raindrops were lemon drops and gumdrops…

…I would have a lot of candy. Seriously. Do you know how much rain we’ve had the past couple days?! And it’s cold too. I don’t like this :( It should not feel like the Arctic in the convent.

It’s been a sluggish few days. Rain + clouds = tired me. Class has been fine, but aside from grocery shopping, I haven’t really been outside much. I need sunshine to come back. I need to stand outside and soak up some Vitamin D, as well as work on my nonexistent tan. Sunshine would make me a very happy camper :)

It’s so hard to believe that I’ll be home a week from tomorrow! Words cannot express the mix of excitement and sadness I feel as I think about leaving. I mean, I’ve gotten so comfortable here in Rome, and I’ve made a lot of friends, including the people I’m living with. However, I also really want to get home to my family and friends. There’s also Wal-mart, Eat n’ Park, driving, American pizza, snow… all these things that I don’t have here.

Back to the rain… it’s making it hard for me to dry my clothes. With the rain, there’s limited space outside to hang everything up, and with the time of year, the cold makes my clothes take twice as long to dry :( Thus, I am forced to scatter my clothes all over the convent, hanging them in my closet, draping them over the heaters, and such. It’s very annoying. The weather does not seem to understand that I need those jeans dry so I can wear them tomorrow.

Right now I’m listening to Joe talking with Kylie’s boyfriend–who is also his roommate–via Skype. Let me just say that you should be glad you can’t hear their conversation; it’s really weird and kind of scares me…

God, please bring sunshine back. Help us to cheer up and make the best of the time we have left here. May all we say and do bring glory to you.

 

Turbulence all around me

As I write this, I’m sitting in the library submitting my paper for the Digital Gallery Project. It’s late, and only a few hours ago I got back from a fun but long weekend in Athens. I was planning to get a nice hot shower, but I might delay it until morning. Buy hey, at least that paper will be done!

My last day in Greece wasn’t bad. I enjoyed the Changing of the Guard by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens :) It was obviously formal, but the way the soldiers had to march brought a smile to my face. I also made a few dog friends there. That’s one thing that kind of puzzles me–there are a lot of dogs wandering the streets of Athens. And they aren’t strays–most have collars, and they look like someone’s feeding them. So what are they for? We guessed they might be military dogs. Want to know why? On Friday night we visited the Tomb for the first time, and two of these dogs started following us. Not like we had something to hide that they were trying to sniff out, but more of a “Come play with me and scratch my belly!” All of a sudden, they run to this guy nearby and start barking like crazy at him and forcing him off the sidewalk and into the street! And not because he was scared; no, he was making motions like “Be quiet! Don’t draw attention to me!” Suspicious? I think so…

So anyhow, those dogs became my friends, if only for a few hours :)

The flight back this evening was not the best one of my life. I guess the weather was a bit stormy, seeing as how we had some turbulence going on :P Seriously, the plane was shaking and even dropped a few times–it made me scared! I mean, I’m still trying to recover from my fear of flying, and turbulence doesn’t help much in that respect. Still, we got back to Rome safe and sound, and I praise God for that, since for a few moments I thought we might die.

To add to that fun time, our shuttle bus broke down on the way to Termini. We were only a couple of miles away from the airport, and the driver had to pull over a couple times before he stopped altogether! It wasn’t that bad; I was still feeling the God-given peace from the plane, so I wasn’t too upset, but I did want to get home! Thankfully another bus was close behind us, so we got on that one. All I can say is to repeat the chorus of that wonderful hymn, “Great is thy faithfulness…”

Thank you, God. Thank you.