So many cats!! This one is from Mykonos 🙂

It was my freshman year when I decided to commit to a summer study abroad program in Italy. It had always been my dream to study abroad and I eventually wanted to do a full year abroad as well, but wanted to test the waters first. A few months after committing, all UA abroad programs were canceled and we were thrown into lockdown. I understood the need, and I respected the lockdown, but a little, selfish part of me was upset about the disruption of my plans––my mind had not yet grasped the severity of the situation. And, looking back on it now, I had no idea what the next three years would have in store for me. I told myself, “Next year.”

Needless to say, it was not next year. But, luckily, it was the year after that. And not only will I be starting my program in the next few days, but I am fortunate enough to have already been traveling Europe for almost two weeks. I first traveled with my family through Greece, Montenegro, and Croatia, and now I’m on my own in Italy until my program starts. It is nerve-wracking being alone in another country, but luckily I got a feel for the city before my family left and I am confident in my ability to navigate around. One of the most important and easiest things you can do to improve your experience abroad is simply ask. If you don’t know which stop is yours? Ask! Don’t know how to get to a certain restaurant you’ve been looking for? Ask! Even with a language barrier, most people are willing to help so long as you approach them kindly. You might even hit it off with them––I have already connected with so many individuals from around the world and most of our conversations have started with a simple question.

Also, a note on traveling (planes, trains, and automobiles)––traveling, especially abroad, can be very, very frustrating and anxiety-inducing. You’re tired, probably dehydrated, and want to just get there. There is not much advice when it comes to it, you simply have to power through. And once you get to your destination, forget it ever happened (unless it was amazing, but otherwise don’t let the bad feelings spoil the rest of your trip). Just be mentally prepared for that, and know you will get to your destination (eventually).

I know my original study abroad goals are not achievable, but regardless, I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to go abroad and I am ready to enjoy what I didn’t think was possible for the last two years.