One of my earliest childhood memories was watching The Lizzie McGuire Movie on Disney. I loved to imagine myself a little bit older, in Italy. I held onto that dream for years, until I found out that people can actually pay to learn while studying abroad, and I knew that dream can become a reality.
I spent years saving up and figuring out a plan. I was going no matter what. Now, I just had to execute that plan.
At the beginning of my sophomore year, I made my way down to the study abroad office. I was quickly humbled by the amount of work that had to be done in order to get me to Italy in the next semester, but I was determined to make my dream come true.
I filled out stacks of paperwork and signed my name more than 50 times. The most stressful thing was probably applying for a student visa. Here is a little word of advice, get your paperwork and visa application done early. That is if you mess up, like I did, you have time to fix your mistakes before the deadline.
Anyways, the time had come. I had spent months preparing for this moment. I was approved and in just a few short weeks, I would be buying authentic gelato in Italy, and I was finally booking a plane ticket to Milan.
I was counting down the days. As my departure date was coming closer, the more nervous I got. I started to wonder if I could actually do it (spoiler alert, I was fine).
I packed up my 2 suitcases and made my way to the airport. This wasn’t my first time traveling alone but, it was still a big step for me, for anyone really. The first plane ride to New York was about 3 hours, and then another 10 hours to get to Italy. I grew impatient.
I finally arrived in Milan, and the Uber ride over to my new place was an interesting experience. Fun fact, even though it looks like vans can’t fit on the streets of Milan, somehow they make it work. I had finally made it to my new dorm, with an adorable view of the tram and street life. I couldn’t ask for a better place to spend the next 6 months of my life.
Over the next few days, I began to meet new people from all over the globe, and my new friend group started to form. I quickly noticed that I was one of, if not the youngest person in my program. No big deal.
School started, Italian was mandatory. I was very excited, I had wanted to learn Italian since I could remember, but I am horrible at learning new languages and I was struggling. lucky for me, my friends helped me with studying and I eventually went on to pass the class.
I went on to do a lot of things actually. And the memories I created will stay with me forever. My best times were probably when I traveled to Berlin and Amsterdam, or perhaps my solo trip to Croatia. I will never forget the look on my grandfather’s face when I told him I visited his home country all by myself with his inspiration.
The Lizzie McGuire Movie may have inspired my trip but I learned a lot about myself when I went abroad. I learned what I can and cannot handle, and I got to travel the world and experience things for myself for the first time as a young adult. I feel that I made my younger self proud.
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