Hello, it's me (finally!)
I tend to be an anxious person.
Despite my overbearingly positive personality, thoughts and worries tend to get the best of me once I am alone. When asked by friends and loved ones alike, “Are you excited about studying abroad next semester?” My head and my heart, avidly agreeing, would respond, “Yes! I absolutely cannot wait!” Inevitably, however, the following question would follow, “But aren’t you nervous, especially with everything going on in the world?” In answering this question with a confident “I try to not let it stop me,” I could not help but think about this every night leading up to the departure.
My flight from Boston, Massachusetts to Rome, Italy left on New Years Day. To say I started off the New Year with a bang is a bit of understatement. I traded in a sparkly outfit, bubbly and a disappointing New Years party for a Chinese-take-out farewell dinner with loved ones. For me, this was the greatest way to ring in the New Year. However, I didn’t even have the time to think of resolutions because all I could think about was saying goodbye to my dog, loved ones, (should that be in opposite order?!) and of course fitting all of my shit into one suitcase.
Leaving the next day, I felt pretty numb with excitement and nerves. The last time I was on an airplane, I had a mini panic attack, so the idea of flying made me a bit uneasy. However, this was the biggest journey I would be taking, a time in my life where I knew I would have to take a leap and swallow my nerves. I am not going to lie, I was very lucky. My parents wanted to fly over with me because they wanted to take a (well deserved) vacation to visit family and see me off. This was great for me, because in truth, I didn’t feel quite ready to take on everything alone (I would never have admitted this a week ago!)
But unfortunately for my parents, I drove them crazy. (Sorry mom and dad! Love you!)
But here is the best part about flying to a new country with anxiety, stress, and excitement… curiosity will overpower all of these feelings. Once that plane was in the air, I felt as though I left behind all of my doubts; all of the negative questions I asked myself and was asked by others; and most of all, I left behind much of my fear.
Once we landed safely and in one piece, I realized two things. First of all, if I spent less time worrying about life and just trusted that things would work out okay… then I would have far too much time on my hands. Second, being flexible and ready to take on whatever life throws at you is crucial to not only surviving, but thriving. Learning how to be flexible is going to be a life long work in progress for me, but it starts now, and it will be well worth it.
Now, I am aware that listening to students who have traveled or studied abroad can be quite annoying to say the least, but for those of you contemplating participating in such exprience, I am now writing to you. No matter how many small nervous breakdowns you may have leading up to the trip; no matter how comfortable you are with your current day to day lifestyle; and especially, no matter how many things you cannot fathom leaving behind, I say GO.
It doesn’t matter if it is for a semester or a two week vacation; if you are 20 or 65; if you have the opportunity, take it and make it yours.
Now I understand why people don’t shut up about the places they’ve traveled to. It is not about the location itself, but it is about living as a free human being. Traveling is about stepping outside of your perspective to experience someone else’s. For me, gaining as much perspective as possible is what life is all about. Studying abroad in Italy will allow me to experience my life in a completely different way, through the lens of a totally different (yet truly magnificent) culture.
So, to go back to the question I was asked so many times and to answer it truthfully now, I would say this: Yeah, I am nervous… I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t. But will I let a temporary emotion keep me from experiencing one of the most amazing adventures in my lifetime? Hell to the no. I am going to enjoy every bit of the nerves, because soon they will blossom into curiosity and ultimately joy.
So if you are still with me, thank you.
As for me… Italy, I am now yours!