On May 29th, I will be departing the soil on which I have spent the last (almost) 14 years. To where? To the birthplace of the Renaissance, to the home of some of the most amazing artists, to a city full of culture (and some real pizza and delicious gelato!), yes, to Florence, Italy!
Traveling is not out of my comfort zone, and I feel not nervous but excited and full of anticipation of wonderful things to come! In these last few weeks before departure, the desire to leave and finally immerse myself in this new culture is only growing stronger and stronger. Europe is my home and the home of all of my previous generations. I am only returning to it, and I cannot be more excited to see the parts I have not yet seen (like Italy!). My program is 4 weeks, 3 hours of classes per day during the week with free weekends — That’s so much time to sight-see and to engage doing unique experiences! I look forward to eating some real pizza, tasting some authentic gelato, visiting amazing museums, talking to genuine Italian people, bonding with my wonderful classmates, and capturing breathtaking pictures to document these experiences!
I can honestly say I have always pictured myself studying abroad, I always told myself it would be what I will do in college. Then college came, and money left. My course load seemed to discourage any idea of studying abroad if I were to build up my resume during the summer with internships and volunteer work. But I decided to LIVE! I made this summer, my summer off, to explore and realize myself through new experiences. Money is money. It’s a requirement for anything, and with dedication and persistence, there’s always a way to make things happen (like scholarships). I wasn’t going to let college pass me by and look back to see that I missed out. Now, I am here, days away from an Italian adventure. I look forward to the culture shock, the home-sickness, the (somewhat) language barrier, the difference social norms, because it’s all a side-effect of something that will build my character and teach me about myself. You can’t grow stuck in a comfort zone, so step out!
Everyone who travels abroad, whether to study, to intern, or anything in-between, comes back with the most exciting stories. You can hear the passion they have in the retelling of the stories, and the nostalgia for where they traveled to. Each person I have encountered and talked to about studying abroad is overly encouraging to do the same. In these last few pre-departure days, I look forward to becoming one of those people, to come back and encourage others, to tell my own stories, and to have made my own memories. Every day it becomes more real, more real that I’m actually going to Italy to study. The more real it gets, the more impatient I am. See you later, Alabama! Next stop? Florence, Italy!