The kind words of others were what reassured me that this was the right thing for me, and not insane after all. Their excitement for me. In the last day before I left, my aunt came over to visit, and I got phone calls from my uncle and all my closest cousins, wishing me well. A small gesture, since we’re in contact fairly frequently anyway, but it meant everything to me at such a vulnerable time.
So to answer my own question, I guess sometimes even when we’re adults, we don’t know what’s best for us, we just rely on others’ input. Nothing inside of me could have ever known all on my own whether it was right or not. But I really appreciate all the people who came out for me when I truly needed them.
Now that I’m here, the friends that I’m making, sometimes unexpectedly, are making all the difference. Most of the other teacher trainees on my course are much older than me, and the one girl my own age I didn’t immediately connect with. But there’s something sort of special about going out for pizza and a few bottles of wine with friends ranging in age from 23 to 61, and all getting along, and having a ton to talk about. We share something abstract in common, those of us drawn to this kind of international life, helping people in our small way, and helping ourselves to live whatever it is that we consider ‘the good life’ here. There’s something special in a new friend who’s married with kids inviting me over for a dinner party as if I were actually an adult, and the fact that we gossip as if we were both still in high school. All of these new friends are planning to stay in Milan for a while, so it’s no longer really an individual adventure, but a combined one, all of us coming from our different perspectives, for our different reasons.
Lastly the students we are teaching really help – seeing how nice they are, and how they can really like you and relate to you, and how they truly want to be there makes it feel worthwhile. Even though for them it’s a free course, putting up with a whole bunch of teachers still in training, all haphazard and flawed. Because teaching can be about theory and method and content all you want, but it’s also essentially about people, connecting, interacting. Like most things in my life right at this minute seem to be.