As I prepare for my travels to Italy, I have been trying to use my conversational Italian skills. Even though I have taken a year of Italian, I still feel a little nervous about speaking the language with native speakers. So, I have been reading a bunch of little Italian books with quick phrases and expressions. Randomly I have been calling objects and foods by their Italian names, and this seems to confuse some of the people around me, but I have just been working through their confusion. Sometimes you should practice languages in everyday occurrences; that way when I am in Italy the words will flow more easily. My confidence with speaking Italian has sky rocketed in the last few months, and now that I have that I feel much better about traveling in August.
I also have wanted to study up on the area that I will be staying in, also to help ease any last-minute jitters about this change in culture. I talked with some of my friends at work, who have gone through this same program, and they started a Google Doc with all the things they think I should do. They have information on foods and restaurants they loved, small tourist sites they think not many know about, and tips on what they think I should bring. Talking with them has increased my excitement ten-fold! I would have never heard about these places without their help. Now, I can bring my roommate and friends to try these places with me (I am that friend with insider information)!
I am very surprised about how un-stressed I feel about this whole process. I am usually the person that freaks out with big changes in my life, but I have remained calm and collected these last few weeks. Most likely this has been because I am keeping myself preoccupied. With studying up on Italian and talking with my fellow employees, I have not given myself time to freak out. So far, this distracting strategy has worked to ebb my anxiety. But I have come up with a few things I will do in the next months to remain relaxed: talk to someone if I am feeling nervous, use my laptop to plan out what I want to bring and do before and after I leave, and get a journal that I can write down my feelings and experiences in. I think these tips could work with just about everyone, and I definitely recommend getting your anxieties and feelings out in the open to help feel better.
As much as I am trying to keep myself relaxed and at ease, it is okay to freak out every now and again. We all process change in different ways, so what works for me may not work for someone else. It is always important to know your limits and understand your emotions. I am very grateful for all of the support that I have received from my friends, office, and family, as they are the ones who understand me best, and know the best ways to help me adjust.