Living in Viterbo as a student has been nothing short of revolutionary. Here I am, 22 years-old and studying abroad on my own in another country. No parents, no rules, no responsibility, right?
I’m frequently asked by my friends back home the same question over and over again. “How is it not having any parents around or any rules?! It must be awesome.”
To that I say, its only half true. Sure, my parents aren’t around to dictate my daily life and I don’t have any super expensive bills to pay like health and auto insurance, but its like freshman year all over again.
On January 8th when I walked into the Balletti Palace Hotel. There were swarms of people I didn’t know looking at me with the same face of quiet content that I had. None of us knew each other, really. But I knew making friends again without the safety net that I had built for myself over the last four years was much easier this time around than it was freshman year.
Now it is late February. I’ve found friends that make me laugh, that I can be myself around and not face judgment. I’ve found a best friend who understands me just as well as my friends back home. Truth is: I’ve created a life here that I don’t want to leave in May. I don’t want it to expire. I want to live the dream as long as possible.
Each day is graced with spontaneity and is hardly ever the same. Today I got out of class and called two of my new friends: Vivian and Caleb to see if one or both of them wanted to go to the only beer store in Viterbo for some rarities. What I thought would be one person turned into five. Five of us walked to the beer store, which was closed because of “Pausa Pranzo,” a daily ritual where Italian shops close their doors for a midday break.
We decided to hit the park and climb up onto this statue that was kind of half buried in the ground. Only its head, one arm, knee, and foot were above ground. We horsed around on the statue for a little bit, then continued to walk around the park. We saw a trampoline we really wanted to bounce on and an abandoned house littered with garbage and crumbled stone. Graffiti covered the walls and dust lined the interior. Beer bottles lay smashed, clothes laid there dirty – from dust and age – and old furniture was tarnished. It had been abandoned for quite some time by the looks of it.
Afterwards, we got a late lunch for a modest price near Caffe San Sisto. Ten Euro for a three course meal. After an hour and a half of laughter, we packed up and walked back over to the beer store. Finally, I thought, I’m doing what I set out to do this afternoon. We got our beer and parted ways. Just like that a 30-minute errand turned into a five hour adventure.
I didn’t hate it either. It was spontaneous, fun, and totally genuine. The afternoon was all about good times with good friends. And that’s what all my days in Viterbo are like. Never regular, always changing. I’m always on my toes – never stuck in the same routine.
Each day I remember that times like these are possible because I live in a small town within a medieval wall where unplanned adventures hardly ever go wrong. I don’t think I could ever do this in Rome because its just too big. Viterbo is the perfect city for me to study abroad in and I’ve been thankful to be here from day one.
From the moment I arrived to this day, I’ve been inexplicably happy. Happy that I was given the chance to study abroad. Happy that I found such a fantastic group of friends. Happy that I found exciting places in Europe to visit and to share with those same friends. Happy just because.