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

…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…

Read Alyssa’s thoughts on leaving Sicily on her blog.