If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat, you’ve probably already seen that I’ve been having a crazy summer. I spent the first six weeks of summer studying abroad in Florence, Italy, and my second six weeks completing an internship in our nation’s capital.
Florence was a dream, filled with random adventures to hidden towns, late nights studying with my roommates, and lots and lots of pasta. My classmates and I made wishes at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, rode in gondolas in Venice and swam in crevices in Cinque Terre. I’m confident that the only things that allowed us to make it through the busiest six weeks of our lives were plenty of 4-euro bottles of wine and a decent amount of 50-cent espressos from a vending machine in our school.
Then, less than a week after getting back from Florence, I moved to Washington, DC (where I knew no one), to complete my ~* dream *~ internship.
I had landed the job starting with a tweet to the company’s digital strategist. After months of emailing back and forth, I secured the position. I’m currently writing blogs about social issues, analyzing healthcare systems and working on digital strategy for the founder of craigslist, Craig Newmark, who now is an influential figure devoted to philanthropy.
To supplement my internship, which started as just 20 hours per week, I knew I needed to get a serving job. I ended up working for a gay bar, serving brunch and happy hour in the midst of performances by drag queens. I thrived in the upbeat atmosphere with silly co-workers and flexible hours. My friends back home thought I was crazy. I loved it.
Here’s the thing: we are so young. When we land 9-to-5 jobs and have student debt and insurance bills to worry about, we may not have the funds—or flexibility—to drop everything and do something we love.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that once I have a real job, I’ll turn into a boring adult who spends every night at home with my boyfriend binge watching Netflix episodes. I’ve met many ~cool adults~ who find ways to save funds for vacation travels to look forward to and get around society’s pressure to settle down and stick to a routine.
But there’s been something special about this summer. It felt like more than just “traveling.” I didn’t just travel to two of the most touristy cities in the world—I lived in them. It may have only been for six weeks, and I may not have had the time to be quite as immersed in Italian culture as someone who spends a year there, but I know where the nearest Conad is like the back of my hand. I even know a trick to fixing the Italian toilets.
And the Washington Monument isn’t just a building that I take a silly picture with. It’s my regular running route and my place to think. The White House still leaves me in awe, but I’m thankful that I can stop by and stare at it on my way home from work, wishfully wondering if our President will walk out. (Note: I actually did do this several times, and Obama never walked out. I think the secret service guards think I’m insane.)
I’m only going to be 20 once. I have just one summer left before I have to secure a real job. I don’t know what I’m going to do a year from now; maybe I’ll be back in DC. Maybe I’ll find an internship in another city. Maybe I’ll seek out freelancing positions and travel as needed. Maybe I’ll work at an ice cream parlor in Asia. I have some ideas, but the point is I really don’t know. And I’m okay with that uncertainty. I’m going to take risks, and move, and do my best and maybe fail along the way.
There were times in my internship search where I wanted to give up, and when I wondered if I should just stop trying, play it safe, and spend the summer in Athens with my friends.
I am so glad I persisted, though. My trip to Italy getting cancelled last year was a blessing in disguise, as was being rejected from other internship positions; I would not have had the experience or met the people I did if it hadn’t worked out this way. Everything really does happen for a reason.
I leave DC in less than a week, and my life will go back to as normal as my life ever is. I will inevitably procrastinate and spend long nights at the library trying to master flashcards again. Days will get shorter, and nights will get longer. But to ever person who helped me get here and to every person I met along the way: thank you for this wild, exhausting, unforgettable, whirlwind of a summer.
On my last day in Italy, I went on a run up to the Piazzale Michelangelo, a square known for having one of the most beautiful, panoramic views of Florence. On my shuffle came “Closing Time” by Semisonic. I’d heard the song many times before, but I never really noticed the line: “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” As much as I hated to say goodbye to Italy and as sad as I am to leave my new normal here in DC, it’s only a matter of time before the next adventure comes along.