“Let me be something every minute of my life,” she says, “Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere – be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” This prayer written by Betty Smith in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a mantra I have repeated and lived by since reading the book for the first time.
I can honestly say that at every minute during my study abroad in Venice and my internship in New York City I was something. And whatever that “something” was, it was extreme. I was throwing my hands in the air and letting the wind hit me on top of a 2,752 meter mountain in the Dolomites on the border between Italy and Austria. I was so full of pasta on that rooftop in Venice that I promised I would never eat again. I was well dressed and presentable as I stepped off the train on the first day of work in my new high heels, and I can honestly say that I felt blessed every minute.
Choosing to study abroad in Italy was one of the best decisions that my pesto-loving self could have made and it was a decision that has been in the works since my junior year in high school. Because of three years of anticipation and a lifetime of Italian training, jumping into the boat to my dorm after thirteen hours of travel was one of the most rewarding and satisfying leaps of my entire life and as I left my new friends, a deep-rooted culture, and a magnificent language to board that plane again, there were no amount of nostalgic pictures that could stop the tears. My eight weeks in Venice through the Harvard program gave me a new home, and a magnificent city that I know will always embrace me with open and loving arms.
The last three weeks of August were spent passionately devoted to interning with a novelist in New York, pursuing aspects of one of my childhood dreams and learning what goes into being a published author. Looking back on this summer, I can barely believe all that’s happened and weekends in Florence, Paris, and Verona seem like a dream. More than any of those incredible moments and sights, I cannot believe the way that I have changed in just a few short months. At every second, I was something. I was growing, maturing, and discovering myself. And at every second I was really and truly living.