by Alyssa Giesler, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange Homestay Participant in Italy

All good things must come to an end,” at least that is what I’ve heard. I have always hated this saying. It seems so cynical, so depressing. I suppose in an existential sense this is true: everything ends at some point, but I can’t help but ask that if something is “good,” does it ever really end? Physically, there may be an end point, but the memories of that good thing, the goodness that one gains from it, the “changed for the better” in someone; isn’t this the continuation of those good things?

I will be leaving Sicily, my home away from home, in two days time, and I have spent the better half of this week reflecting on the above mentioned phrase and all of the good things I have experienced here. True, I will no longer be living in Catania with my wonderful family, but I do not see my leaving as the end of our bond. They have become a part of me, who I am as a person. Living with them and adapting to their lifestyle has taught me much about myself and re-shaped my small perspective of the world. This experience has opened my mind in ways I did not expect. I did not simply take a vacation traveling through the vineyards of Italy, sipping wine, eating cheese, and riding on the back of Vespas with cute Italian men. Alright, well I did do those things, but these past three months became so much more than that. I learned how to be a teacher, felt that rush of pure joy and sense of accomplishment when Ida would understand what she was reading, and the happiness I felt for her accomplishment in that moment; I gained new meaning to “independent study,” or studying without any assignment or teacher or school tuition providing incentive, but studying purely for my own desire to learn; I figured out how to adapt to a striking change in environment and comfort zone; and I discovered a confidence in simply being who I am, embracing my characteristics, both good and bad, and finding value in them.