Since I started going to college in 2008 my mother wanted me to look into Studying Abroad. I ended up going to a community college and living in my parents basement for two years. I have now been at OSU for almost two years and studying abroad never really crossed my mind. One of my friends from high school, Jordan (she is taking this class too), mentioned wanting to go abroad and I responded with how I had thought about it before. Next thing I know we are at a First Step meeting and picking out our program.
When we were trying to decide where to go I really had no input; I just knew that I wanted to go somewhere. So Jordan picked Florence, Italy and I just went with it. Turns out that it was a fantastic choice. If you think about it there are so many other places that we can go while we are abroad. If we had chosen Australia or Mexico there are only so many places we can explore; especially since Australia is an island. While we are in Europe there are so many opportunities for us to visit new places. We have decided that we most definitely want to go to:
London, England: We are actually flying into London and spending two days with Jordan’s aunt and uncle. Gives us a chance to see London through locals eyes.
Greece: I have been wanting to go to Greece since I took geology in high school. My teacher had a poster of these white buildings with the blue roofs in his classroom and I fell in love instantly. It became my goal to walk through these buildings and swim in that crystal clear water.
We know that there are many other places that we will want to see once we research it all a little bit more. We are going on excursions with the program to Verona, Venice, Bologna, and (one other place that I can’t think of). Which will be a fantastic way to see Italy with some support of people who know what they are doing and what they are looking at.
I know nothing about Europe. The reason I really want to study abroad isn’t for the sites but more for the experience. I was born in a small town, raised on a farm, and home schooled until high school; I am a simple girl and an extreme home body. I am a mommy’s girl and haven’t been away from my parents for longer then a week; and have never been out of the country. This is a big step for me, and Jordan both.
The more and more we talk about it, the more we know this is the right decision for us. We need to break away, experience new things and find our selves. That’s what we say is our biggest reason for going abroad, to ‘find out who we are’. I may know some things about myself but definitely not everything, I need to learn what I want in life; who I want to be; what I want to accomplish.
I found an article in Yes! Weekly written by Eric Ginsburg called Ten Best Things About My Trip To Italy. He brings up a lot of good points worth thinking about. About three of the 10 things had to do with food, “Naples is the birthplace of pizza, and everyone seems to agree they still do it best”. I have heard from numerous sources (that I can’t think of at the top of my head) that to experience a culture you start with through their food. The food represents the culture. To really experience a place you need to get into their culture, explore the society – not from a tourist point of view – but from the eyes of a local. He had his sister as a local to show him around and explain things; I will not have that so I will be getting help from people who live there hopefully. Meaning, that Jordan and I hope to make friends with some Italians; possibly from some community events that our school puts or by just being friendly at restaurants. I hope this because I believe no one could show us Italy like a true Italian could.
I read a lot of good information in What Do I Pack for My Trip to Italy?, because I feel exactly how they say “packing for your trip to Italy can be daunting”. Even thinking about what I am going to pack stresses me out big time. This article gave me a little bit of an in sight on the main things that are needed that I might of not thought about. One of them is a empty back pack; you can use this for many things. One of the main reasons is taking it to get groceries because most Europe shops make you pay for plastic bags now. Another is for taking extra souvenirs home with you that might not be able to be shoved into my checked bag. Another thing that I would not of thought about on my own is some dressier clothing and a cardigan or wrap. “Crucial for getting into churches, since some, like St. Peter’s Basilica, adhere strictly to the no-shoulders, no-short skirts dress code in even the hottest months.” I do not want to disrespect their culture so knowing details like this, about what is appropriate and what is not, is important. It is also important that we blend in and don’t look like tourists – this is for our personal safety and to just up our experience – we need to bring fancy clothes because Italians tend to dress up a bit more for dinner.
An article written in 2009 called Students Traveling Abroad Share Their Stories Close to Home on Marry Baldwin College’s web page written by Melissa Jones brings up a great point that I was actually already planning on. Using blogging as a way to keep your friends and family informed, as a teaching tool for other students considering studying abroad, and a way to process all of your experiences. I was already planning on keeping a blog so that I wouldn’t have to send out dozens of emails and postcards to each member of my family but I never thought about using it as a tool for keeping in touch with my culture – to be able to put everything down in writing. Writing always helps me process things so if I experience or see something in Italy why not use blogging to help me sort through it? Seems like a fantastic idea to me.
I have heard nothing but good things about studying abroad from other students. They tell us to not let money get in the way of our dreams . . . but seriously? I am supposed to just spend almost $20,000 on a trip that will only last 3 months without even thinking about the debt that I am going to be in? I’m sorry but that doesn’t happen; in this society money is how you get and do anything so it is scary to think about how much money I am going to be spending on this trip. On the other hand I know that if I don’t do this now I will never get the chance to again. My family and friends support me a lot and they are so excited about the adventures that I will have. Their support helps me a lot; it helps me get excited about it rather then discouraged.
I visited my mom in Wilsonville a couple months ago when she was in town for a 4-H Conference. I was in the 4-H program for 11 years so every person at the conference knew me. Each and everyone of them questioned me about my plans after college and I told them all about my Italy plans – even though I hadn’t been officially accepted yet – they were all so ecstatic for me and told me how awesome it was that I was breaking away and letting my self have this adventure. It just felt really good to have that kind of support.
No Comments so far
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>