On May 6th 2019, I flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Italy, and once landing I began a three month journey that I never imagined would impact me in the way that it did.
Before even leaving America I knew numerous people who had gone on the exact same study abroad program. Each and every one of them told me that it would be life changing. At first I understood what they were saying at face value, but at the end of my program a truly understood what they meant…
This was not my first time flying alone, for example when I was 17 I flew to New York to visit my brother and sister-in-law and a few months later I flew to New Orleans by myself to celebrate Mardi Gras with some friends from camp. However, when I flew to Italy in May of 2019 it was my first time flying to another country by myself, and was also the longest plane ride I have ever flown, and that still stands to this day. Luckily for me some of the people that I would spend the next three months with were also passengers on my flight, but I wasn’t sat near any of them and I was a whole year younger than each of them, which didn’t help with my ever growing nerves.
When we landed the nerves set in and doubt in myself clouded my mind: was I going to get along with the other students and make friends? was I going to enjoy my time in Europe? could I actually make it three months away from my friends and family in another country? I was a nervous wreck the entire ride to the palace (this is what we called our home base because we were literally living in the basement of an Italian palace and yes that is still crazy to think about to this day), but I didn’t let anybody know because I wanted to seem confident and sure in my decision and that I didn’t take someone else’s spot, especially because this was a competitive study abroad program that has a two year waiting list.
However, as the first day went on I started to feel more comfortable with my surroundings. Everyone on the trip was friendly and our leaders were/are the most welcoming people.
Now I know that it is cliche to say that studying abroad changes you, but it really does, especially when taking part in the program that I was involved in. Of course study abroad is focused on studying about cultures and gaining new experiences, but through my study abroad experience I was able to see myself in a different light than I ever had before, as well as getting to know both my peers and the surrounding community (who primarily only spoke Italian) on a deeper level. The entire time we were encouraged to become our best selves, we learned about our inner saboteurs and how to become confident in ourselves and our actions, we planned for our futures, we got involved with the community, and most importantly we were trusted to navigate Europe on our own.
Now explaining all of the aspects of my study abroad in one blog post would be insane, so this is just the precursor. My goal is to post the different places I visited, the experiences, and travel tips weekly in order to not ramble in one post, as well as making it easier to find specific content. Therefore, keep an eye out for future travel content!