Prior to sharing my Separation Letter with my best friend I was very nervous because change even when beneficial can still be scary. My Separation Letter was very much centered around the changes I will undergo while abroad and the distance between my home and I that is necessary for those changes to happen. I felt a bit uneasy saying this because it seemed as if I was abandoning my best friend for something better. However, after explaining that even though this experience will only last a few months and even if I change as a person I will just be a different, new version of myself, not a completely different person when I return. After sharing the letter, I was worried about how the lack of contact I talked about in my letter would make my friend feel. This journey is going to be an opportunity for both of us to make new friends and it is a time for exploration for us both.
The quote I chose was “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta. I chose this quote because it really encompasses what I want my study abroad experience to be. I am so excited to be going to Florence but what I am most eager about is going beyond the typical tourist destinations, using my limited knowledge of the language to eat at tiny restaurants where no one speaks English and pursuing things on a whim and not having to worry about answering to someone else.
Procrastination has struck once again, I’m not quite ready to leave yet and so I don’t feel fully prepared. However, the webinar that I listened to on Wednesday helped a lot. It made me feel like there will be a little security blanket if I do need one but I don’t think that I will really feel like this is real life until the suitcases are waiting by the door and I’m saying goodbye but once I move in to my apartment and my family leaves, I think that is when I will truly feel ready.
I can’t measure a “successful” education abroad in anything tangible. There is not a number or a deadline that will make this “successful” for me. It’s hard for me to measure my success because I don’t have any direct expectations for the next four months, I am mostly anticipating the feelings I will have, most of which I can’t even name. If at the end of my four months in Italy I feel proud of myself, then it will be a success. The constant reflection that I will go through in writing my travel logs will be the most important tool to figuring out if I am on track. I usually am very organized and a bit OCD, I like structure and plans and mapping out every second of the day. I want to learn to “go with the flow” and become more spontaneous while I am abroad, if I can achieve personal growth in this aspect that will greatly contribute to a successful experience abroad.
Aside from becoming more easy going, becoming more open minded will help me deal with challenges I face abroad. Choosing to look at challenges in a positive light can completely change my experience. For example, during the webinar they told us that we would be using clotheslines to dry clothes because there is no dryer. Right away this was exciting to me because even though it would be a slight inconvenience, it makes it feel more authentic. My grandparents used a clothesline sometimes even though they have a dryer and I accept the differences between Italy and America; if they were the same, studying abroad would be pointless. The last time I visited Italy, I was with many of my family members and we all stayed in a bed and breakfast. Due to the location on the side of Mt. Etna in Sicily, there was not enough hot water for everyone to shower as they normally would. My cousins and I ended up washing each other’s hair in the sink so that everyone could shower. This became a funny memory for us rather than a nuisance that hindered our time in Italy. This attitude is very easy to have if I so choose and it will be vital to enjoying rather than surviving this experience.
I have never been much of a homebody, my first night freshman year at college I slept like a baby and up until recently I have felt the same way about studying in Italy. The picture I chose shows the attitude I want to have. “Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be.” Even if I feel small and insignificant, I want to be able to put on a tough face and act like the person I want to become until I really do adapt all of those traits.