I was so excited to study abroad, so excited that I completely forgot about everything else. As soon as I got my acceptance e-mail, my stress faded away, I saw Rome on the horizon, and I shirked all additional responsibilities. Let my mistake be a lesson to future students, the acceptance is only the beginning of the journey.
Rewind to a few weeks prior, I was recently accepted to the program, and purchasing copious amounts of travel books, Italian language books, blank notebooks, just about anything even remotely related to my upcoming adventure. My friends and family were so excited for me, my good friend took me to our favorite book store and further perpetuated my obsession.
I started with a silly little book of colloquial sayings, things like “excuse me, but you have spaghetti on your shoe,” gentle obscenities to yell out in traffic, and generally useless phrases that would likely be kept within my circle of friends. I am still, however, looking forward to finding ways to use these entirely impractical phrases during my time in Italy.
Next, I created a Pinterest board and an Amazon wish list of other things I would “need” for the trip. I researched Rome’s weather patterns during the spring months, and pinned everything from shoes to highlights. I thought about what I would hang on my walls, how I would travel from school to my internship to my apartment, when my friends would visit, where I would go on weekends. I tend to get caught up in the intricacies of my projects, and quite characteristically, I prepared in the most impractical manner possible.
Then came the day when all of my travel materials were due and, needless to say, I was thoroughly unprepared. It was my birthday, and I really thought my brain was going to explode right there in my small Philadelphia living room.
I remember it vividly, it was a Wednesday, and it had been a brutal couple of weeks. I was finally in the home stretch, just a few more assignments between me and the weekend. My birthday was the next day, I had a packed weekend of festivities planned, and I was sitting cross legged at my little coffee table, nearing the end of a grueling midterm season.
My phone lit up with a text from an old friend, and I smiled fondly, relieved to have an excuse to take a break from my work—until I read the text: “did you know the visa application is due tomorrow??” My heart turned to lead. I thought I had been forgetting something important; it turns out I had been forgetting the most important thing.
After all my planning and preparation, I was absolutely and utterly unprepared. I desperately e-mailed the program manager asking about what I could do, but it was a strict deadline. I was about to miss it.
I reverted to natural instincts and called my mother, who sprang into action immediately. Through some motherly magic, she managed to collect all of the necessary materials—notary signatures and post office money orders, things that take other people days to acquire, from places that are open for about one hour a day—she got them all and delivered them to Philadelphia, along with my birthday presents, the next day.
Learn from my mistakes, and do not forget the visa application. It is really important. I have (very unfortunately) learned my lesson, and I hope that this post can save others from making this same mistake. Nonetheless, thanks to my mother and some kind study abroad office personnel, the crisis is behind us all.
Fast forward a few weeks to the airport, I was all packed up and ready to go. Saying goodbye to my parents was difficult and the plane ride was exhausting, but now that I’ve arrived in Italy, all of my worries have melted away. The morning I arrived was the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. It was a crisp spring day, and I was truly in awe. I still remember it vividly, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the beauty of that moment
Upon arrival at my apartment, I was concerned about adjusting and settling, of course, but there are plenty of distractions from the trivial worries of the first few days. I unpacked and made myself comfortable in my room, went for a run, wandered around the town, and basked in the beauty that is Rome. It really is a breathtaking place. From the colorful buildings to the natural scenery, the eternal city leaves you wanting for nothing.
Getting here was not so easy, but staying is effortless, and being here still feels unreal—like an endless dream. I am eager to uncover all that I can about Rome in my time here, and thrilled to have the opportunity to explore this incredible city. If you ever have the chance to travel in any capacity, do it. It really is a life changing experience, and I’ve only been here a week. I am already planning weekend trips with my friends, and am thrilled for the adventures that the semester will bring.
Ciao for now,