It's been 12 weeks since I've been home from studying abroad in Rome, and it is honestly the worst. 

Don’t get me wrong, I missed a lot of things about America when I was abroad: the convenience of fast food, Starbucks, free water at dinner. But at the end of the day, I would give it all up again for one more meal in Roma.

Here's how my diet changed after studying abroad in Italy.

While I Was Abroad

chocolate, cake
Emma Spring

I thought I would gain the, “study abroad 30” while I was in Italy. I was going through the whole Eat, Pray, Love phase of my life. I allowed myself to eat whenever, and whatever I wanted and I couldn't have been happier. 

The pizzas were tossed right in front of my face with fresh heirloom tomatoes and bright green basil from the market down the street. One time, an Italian man shoved a tomato in my face and told me to squeeze it, as if I knew the difference between a mass produced one in America versus a delicate home grown Italian one. 

beer, wine
Emma Spring

In Italy, meals are an experience. Breakfast is enjoyed at a cafe on the way to school or work. I would either run home for lunch or grab some cheap street food. But dinner was by far my favorite meal. We would sit and eat course after course, trying new things, topping off bottles of wine, and talking for hours. And then of course, gelato was for dessert. Lots of gelato.

Even though Rome is a major city, restaurants never rushed us out and the locals really took the time to get to know me—despite my very clear American girl demeanor.

After the Experience

chocolate, cream, ice cream, ice
Emma Spring

Now, products in America seems so artificial. The ginormous superstores are overwhelming and the frozen packaged meals are unappealing. I am just a regular college student with little time to cook and even less money to go out to eat. I don’t have a car and there is no farmer's market near campus, which makes it beyond difficult to truly eat like an Italian. 

The Europeans' whole mantra is to eat in moderation—so I have learned to just enjoy the simple things. As my grocery order dwindles and the weeks go on, I realize that you can get a lot out of a little. Caprese salad is less than five ingredients: basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and vinegar. And there are countless pasta dishes you can make your own with very simple sauces, like a pesto or even just cacio e pepe.

I'd go back to Italy just for one more swirled forkful of handmade pasta. One more late night scoop of gelato. One more slice of warm pizza pie. Who am I kidding? Like ten more whole pizzas. Cause that truly is amoré.