Dear Italy: A Thank You Letter from an Exchange Student
written by myrra kate
You made it so hard for me to leave.
I remember having that feeling once before. It was the day I saw my Mom waving goodbye to me as I leave going here. I thought I’m all set and I won’t have to feel that way anymore because after all, I’ve already overcome it.
I was wrong.
Because today, I waved goodbye to no one in the airport as I go back home to the Philippines*. I didn’t need some physical being to wave goodbye to for me to actually feel that painful feeling again, to feel like crying again. All it took were the memories I’ve had in your gorgeous land. All it took were the amazing people I’ve met, the incomparable Italian food I’ve tasted, and the breathtaking views I’ve seen.
You were a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For that, I am leaving with a soul filled with gratitude, a mind filled with memories, and a heart filled with love.
When I applied for the student exchange program, I didn’t choose you. I chose another country to study in. Somehow, I felt confident that I will pass the application process and get in that university. However, God had a better plan.
Because after more than a month of waiting for the results, I received an email from my home university congratulating me because I actually passed. But then there’s the twist – I could only be given a slot at the University of Trento here in Italy. I could either confirm my acceptance or give up the slot.
You know I’m not a quitter. That slot was precious to me. But honestly, for a second there, my mind lingered and I thought, “Is it even worth it? Italy? Where I’m not even sure if they have the subjects related to my field?”
I almost – almost – gave it up.
But I didn’t.
Now, when I think about it, I’m pretty sure there was a reason I didn’t. There was a reason I called my Mom immediately after reading that email and asked for her permission which she eventually said yes to (mainly because my Mom supports me in whatever makes me happy). There was a reason I didn’t get too lazy to prepare all the documents needed – in fact, they exhilarated me – even if they were so time-consuming given that I still had my studies to be concerned at. There was a reason I was usually awake at 2 am searching for places to visit in Italy and Europe and some travel tips and hacks from here and there. There was a reason that my wanderlust was reinvigorated. There was a reason for everything.
I didn’t choose you at first but you chose me, Italy. I know that God put me here for a reason.
Today, as I leave to go back home, I can finally understand all those reasons. Perhaps, it’s because I was living my life well back then but I was living it just for the sake of it. Or perhaps, it’s because I needed to learn to be more independent. Or maybe because my Mom deserved a break in making me the sun of her world and finally have time taking more care of herself than me. Or that because I had to filter who my real friends were and meet more potential forever friends outside my horizons. I’m not sure about all the reasons – I’m pretty sure there are countless – but I can only fathom how much this exchange program in Italy made me a better person.
Thank you, Italy, for becoming a part of some of the best years I will treasure in my life.
I will miss you. But there’s no reason to be sad. I know I will come back. I promise I will.
Until then, ciao e ci rivediamo presto. Ti amo, Italia.
*My friend actually accompanied me to the airport (thanks, Earl!) but my flight was canceled and eventually rebooked to the next day so I left Italy alone.
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I'm Myrra Kate!
I help female entrepreneurs scale their income and impact by launching transformational online courses so they can stop trading time for money and have more freedom.
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