Thursday, December 22, 2011

Back From Italia & Back to Blogging

Last friday, I returned home to small-town New Jersey after 104 wonderful days of studying abroad in Perugia, Italy. To be honest, I don't know that there's any way to fully explain what the experience meant to me, but I will try my damnedest, because I refuse to return after a four month absence and act like nothing's changed. Yes, blog world, I left you for quite a while. However, it was less because I wasn't thinking about you, (I thought about posting often), but more because there seemed to be no way to describe the experience.

All my life, I've been praised for my confidence, my intuition, and my certainty. There's not many people I know of that are writing a full manuscript, reading 2-3 books a week, blogging, writing new songs, performing gigs, working a part-time job, running three student organizations, all while getting a 4 year degree in just 3 years--but, at 19, I'm doing it. And I'm so proud of myself for that, but, until I went to Perugia, what I was missing was balance. Sure, everything always got done on time and with as much perfection as I could perform, but my social life was struggling as was my sanity. Everything was its own, separate world, and when I was in friend world or school world or agent querying world, the rest of the universe disappeared. By studying in a gorgeous, culture-rich city, where all I had to do was study and relax with no other obligations, I re-learned how to be a 'normal', functioning human being.

Piano, piano is the way of life in Italia. Slowly, slowly. Leisure time. Family time. Time to cook long recipes and eat long meals. Time for sitting, for enjoying nature, and relishing life. I learned how to enjoy all of these things and not to stress so much about perfection or about all of the issues waiting for me back home. I let go of my anxiety over tight scheduling and the friends that didn't answer my e-mails and found a new 'zen'.

I learned to listen in a way I hadn't done before. I didn't have my crazy, vocal, rocker/activist wardrobe to inform the world of what bands I like or what causes (gay rights, homelessness, AIDS, political awareness, etc) that I support, but a more stylish, fashionable and unreadable "Italianesque" wardrobe. I didn't have my guitar with me to write songs with at the exact moment that I felt something. My friends and family were all an ocean away, so I couldn't just call or text them as I had before. I was forced to really listen to my own thoughts and figure out feelings without necessarily speaking them. I had to look to the world around me and to outside influences (music, art, etc) to help me find where I fit, and discovered a new way of processing and breathing through it all that I hadn't mastered before.

I mentioned in September that I had a "muse problem". I had rediscovered my muse in a close friend of mine (who, for now,  we'll call Muse) and had fallen so in love with her and found so much inspiration in her, that I was almost uncomfortable using her as 'Muse' anymore. The distance helped me to see that my muses are everywhere. That I should not limit myself to one muse, nor should I be ashamed of any muse that I have or of my love for anyone or anything that inspires me. Love is the most beautiful of all of my muses, and falling out of love with Muse in a romantic way is probably one of the best things I could have done for my creativity. There will no longer be a Muse with a capital 'M'. All muses are equal , wonderful, and incredibly important to me.

I found myself in Perugia. I fell in love with Perugia. And despite all that, I can't just bring her back home with me to introduce her to my friends and family. Sure, I have pictures and videos and fun facts and stories, but to truly see what I saw, you need at least 70 or 80 days with her to cultivate that love. I'm not sure how to reconcile that. But, for now, I'm putting my best foot forward, letting the world see this new self, and hoping that maybe people will start to understand.

                                                                   Mia Bella Perugia

<3 Gina Blechman


  1. Hi Gina!

    I was searching online for blogs about Perugia and happened to stumble upon you website!
    I was shocked to read about how much you do, have done and want to do and even more so shocked because you're only 19.
    I'm an 18 year old student from Australia who moved to Tokyo at the beginning of this year to better understand the other half of me (I'm half Italian half Japanese) and next year I'm hoping to travel to Italy - Perugia to discover my true self.
    I wasn't sure if I was ready to experience the Italian college life just yet but reading your blog post I can't help but be excited!

    If you don't mind me rambling on, I'm very much like you. (definitely not as accomplished as you)but a perfectionist. I'm determined to follow my dreams and I will do everything I can to make them come true. If I want all A's I get all A's. If I want to move to Tokyo I move to Tokyo. If I want to move into my own apartment to learn independence I do it, and I succeed.

    But recently I've been feeling a little lost. I went from being this picture perfect person to totally falling apart. I don't know what my goals are, I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing anymore...

    Reading your post has inspired me :)
    Hopefully my experience in Perugia next year will help me find myself again.

    I wish you good luck with whatever you do in the future!


  2. Being forced to slow down is sometimes what it takes, eh? I had to do that last year too. Finding balance is amazing. You sound so happy! Enjoy your memories and make more this year now that you're home.

  3. Perugia is beautiful. Love the photos.

    Wow, you are doing so much for being a mere 19 years old. I'm proud of you too. That's a full plate and it looks like you are living life to the fullest. :)

  4. Oh, that sounds like an amazing experience! I hope you share more photos with us :-)

  5. Oh, it looks glorious! So glad you had a wonderful time . . . I know what you mean about sometimes not having the words to describe such an experience.