On August 24 I drove to JFK from my small Massachusetts hometown and boarded a plane to Europe with over 40 strangers. I left my friends, family, and old life behind to begin a new and exciting adventure. The moment I walked through that security gate I knew there was no going back.
For the first few days I was filled with nerves and excitement. We were at a beautiful lake, exploring a gorgeous village, I was meeting new people and things were good. It was when I arrived in Florence that this experience became real. I was hit with homesickness and began to question everything, including why would I ever choose to go to a foreign country for my freshman year? I desperately sought solace and comfort, and of all places I found it in the world of social media.
I’d never appreciated Facebook more than I did those first few weeks away from home. It is the link that keeps me in touch with everything I miss. I’ve been able to message and chat with any of my friends that are online. Facebook and Skype are now linked, and the video chat connection is great. I was able to talk to my giant family which was a huge comfort, especially on my first birthday away from home! I send tweets with little updates that only made my friends jealous. I’m also able to Instagram pictures straight from my iPod so all friends and family can be instantly updated on my whereabouts and see the same views I’m experiencing. Communication is the greatest means of comfort and the best cure for loneliness when in a strange new place, and thanks to social media it has made staying in touch efficient and easy even thousands of miles away.
My mom describes it as surreal, seeing me on a funny little screen with my mouth moving behind my words. And it’s true, it doesn’t seem real. When I see her Ifeel like I’m still in my kitchen at home. My friends and family members of the Facebook community have been going nuts with the “like” button on all tagged pictures I’m in, as well as envy-inducing statuses I’ve posted. Everyone seems to want to know about my adventures. I always seem to forget it’s not very typical for a college freshmen to spend their first year in a foreign country.It’s tough to imagine a life without Facebook now. I feel as though it keeps me just that much closer to home, where now I don’t have to be homesick at all. I can see my friends enjoying college, and pictures of my 8-year old brother’s new mohawk. I know the play that my old high school will be performing, and the sushi specials at the restaurant I work at back a home. Instead of spending time missing the life I used to have, I can stay connected and enjoy my new life here in Florence to the fullest.