I’ve been here for 4 months now and I’ve definitely grown. Both physically and emotionally. My physical growth has come as a direct result from my over indulgence in all that the Italian cuisine has had to offer. My emotional growth has resulted from a number of factors and is still ongoing, however right now I can safely say that the bulk of it has come from dealing with the “extra” bits of Abi that have come along since I arrived in Italia.
About a month ago we went on a cycle tour of the islands just off Venice. While taking a break on the beach everyone decided to play a game of ultimate frisbee. While I watched on the rocks – running without a sports bra has been a luxury I can no longer enjoy – I looked at all my friends enjoying themselves, totally free. Afterwards my friend Jenn suggested that all of us girls take a topless picture facing the Adriatic sea. Abi, 4 months ago, would have jumped to that opportunity in less that a heart beat, but a few weeks ago Abi couldn’t bare the thought. I couldn’t imagine taking my top off and revealing my new love handles and rolls. My waist is not what it was when I came and my tummy is definitely a lot more softer than what I was used to. I initially said no, but seeing all the girls giggling and having fun without me made me think about how I would feel looking at that picture a few years from now and seeing that I wasn’t in it because I had gained a few pounds.
Although I shat some serious bricks (excuse my French) I did it. off went our bras and the Adriatic sea got a full frontal view of what we had to offer. In that moment I realised that your environment / language / food isn’t the only thing that changes when you go on exchange. I was prepared for that type of change. The change I wasn’t prepared for was the change in my body. It’s crazy what a squishier tummy and extra lumps can do to a girls self-esteem. This has been the hardest change to get my head and my heart around.
I feel like taking this picture (as frivolous as it may sound) was the turning point in my experience thus far. I could have let my new found curves define me and hidden away, or realise the true reason why I decided to come on exchange. I came here to “Nqoba Nqoba”. I did not come here to lose weight and worry about my figure. Yes, I have taken steps to get back to my healthier lifestyle but no, I refuse to deprive myself of the Italian happiness that I will get to experience while I’m here.
This is my one year to explore Europe and all it has to offer. I have no interest in becoming obese. I am learning to love myself the way I am now. It’s not easy at all, but I will take this all in my stride.
Expect lots of catch up posts, including my 4th trip to Rome and a look at the shenanagans we get up to on a daily basis, here in Italy!
a presto xx