“Oh my goodness are you so excited???”

*on the inside*

“Not at all I am completely terrified”

*on the outside*

“Yes, so excited! It is going to be such an amazing experience.”

The days leading up to my trip have been especially hard for me as I have only been around the world at Epcot at Disney World and never actually been anywhere outside of the U.S. The uncertainty surrounding the entire trip has been terrifying, and I have made the mistake of not focusing on what I can control and instead focused on all the things outside of my control and tried to figure out how to control them. Planner’s block, it is a real thing.

Typically, I am the queen of planning. In my bag you’ll find a purple pouch full of every color pen, every type of pencil, and numerous other office supplies in addition to a Lilly Pulitzer planner that is always up to date and color coded. On my laptop you’ll find virtual check lists and sticky notes as reminders of the tasks needing to be completed by day, week, and month, and sometimes during the school year I’ll plan my day out to the minute. Butttt for some reason I did not plan at all for this trip and three days before my flight left I decided that maybe I should figure this whole study abroad thing out. Thanks to Chase bank I was able to get a currency exchange in 24 hours, Target for having innovative products so I could maximize the liquids in my luggage, and my mom for being the best packer and helping me travel carryon only.

Studying abroad as an engineering major is extremely difficult. If you can fit a program into your schedule with credits that will transfer and not set you behind, a very large bill with too many zeros will come with it. When my plans for the summer weren’t working out as I had hoped I started looking into other options. I knew that my favorite professor was taking a group abroad and reached out to him thinking, he wouldn’t ever lead me astray, what in the world do I have to lose? Before I knew it, I was walking to Student Accounts and putting down my deposit for the trip. This trip allows me to apply both my skills as a Chemical Engineering student and as a STEM Path to the MBA student, it was the right price, and going to Italy was an absolute dream. It made the decision easy.

As much as I try to be realistic, my expectations for this trip are very high, especially for the program I will be participating in. The European Innovation Academy is a 15-day startup business accelerator. Participants come with ideas and form groups around them and then work with professionals from major companies and organizations as well as investors from Silicon Valley. I expect to work with participants who are passionate and driven to do something to make a difference. The work we will do could potentially impact millions of people and there are no words to describe that kind of influence. It is significant and should be treated as such. I want to discover everything Italy has to offer, the people, the food, the culture, the history. Being out of my comfort zone won’t be fun, but on the other side of it is a beautiful learning experience.