Growing smaller

All days are numbered. Days left until the weekend, days left until you see someone again, days left until an important date comes around, or until an important deadline stares you right in the face, days elapsed since the beginning of a new relationship, a new baby or your PhD, days until you leave, days until you return. All days are numbered, but you realize it most blatantly when you are forced to count them.

89 days in Italy. That’s what I filled out on all my Italian paperwork, and that’s what I told the Immigration Officer when he asked me how long I would stay. For the next three months, my apartment is in a small town called Rovereto in northern Italy, in the province of Trentino. My new office door unlocks with a long iron key that looks like something you would find at an antique store, and my new lab-mates are people who were strangers to me only a handful of days ago. ¬†For the next three months, getting to my street will involve turning left at the vineyard instead of turning left at the Metro station, and instead of hearing traffic and snowplows, I will hear lots and lots of church bells.

Photo by Kristina Kasparian

 

Photo by Kristina Kasparian

Photo by Kristina Kasparian

Why did I suddenly transplant myself to Italy? Besides my long-standing love for this country and culture, the purpose of my stay is academic: my mission for the next three months is to collect data for my PhD project, while collaborating with a research team that is interested in the same topics and methodology as I am.

Although I haven’t moved to Italy for that long a time, the process of leaving and the feelings that arise when dealing with all that is new and uncertain are probably largely the same whether you leave for three months or three years. I remember how similar it felt when I left for Europe for two years for my Master’s degree. I am writing this post for international students or for people who find themselves moving to a new place for their studies or their jobs and who, at some point or another, may have shared these experiences or thoughts.

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