So today is the day…today is the day that I leave my home for 6 months to make a home across the ocean. Today is the day I begin my adventures sipping Italian wine, eating my way through the cities, and spending way too much money on everything Italian. Today is the day I immerse myself into a completely new culture. Today is (hopefully) the start of an awesome transformation of myself. I was accepted into this program over a year ago, so the trip has always been a future thought; I never imagined the day I would actually leave. But today is that day.

I knew I always wanted to study abroad. My mom did a program in Rome and my dad spent a year in Angers, France. To them, world travel was always so important. Being able to learn of other types of worlds and cultures was not only important in knowledge, but also important in shaping well-rounded, considerate, curious children. I was very blessed and lucky to have parents like that. Every other year or so our family gets together for international summer vacations, so I’ve seen quite a bit of Europe and the United Kingdom, but I’ve also been lucky enough to travel to Australia, Fiji, Bolivia, and more. So to me, traveling is a necessary passion. I always had a feeling I would follow in my parents footsteps to either Italy or France, but deep down I could feel Italy calling my name. When I began studying Italian, my amazing teacher, Leslie (who also studied at the University of Bologna), told me I should absolutely not go to Rome, that I should immerse myself fully with the Bologna program. She said nothing would give me the Italian experience so well. After a little research, I was hooked. My friend Grace also went through the same path, and we were so lucky to have gotten in together, along with our two friends Greg and Jane. This was November of 2015. Never did I think January 6th, 2017 would actually come to be.

I’ve been spending the last few weeks with my mom down my throat to prepare (but mom if you’re reading this I wouldn’t even be going without your help…so thank you the most!). I’ve coordinated the banks, the phone services, the travel, and the (seemingly-endless) packing list. Do y’all know how difficult it is to get 6 months worth of clothes into two bags?! I knew I was high maintenance but dang, that took some very difficult decision-making (shoutout to Grace, Jane, and Greg for keeping me sane and for reminding me that my cowboy boots are NOT a necessity in Europe). And my lovely dogs were nice enough to leave me a goodbye present…all over the bags…lovely.

Europe is very different from my hometown of Dallas, Texas (and everything is much smaller too…). I don’t really know what to expect, but I know I will be eating, drinking, and living better than I have in my entire life. This is going to be by far one of the most extraordinary experiences I could have ever hoped for. I’m so thankful for the teachers, family, and friends that have helped me get here today, but most importantly to my amazing mother, who not only flew to South Bend to help me with my endless visa application paperwork during finals week, but also who has kept me on track and lit a flame up under my butt when I needed it most. You guys, this woman is a superhero.

I’m going to try to document my travels as best as possible, and I hope y’all get as much enjoyment as I do from the adventures. I will miss my family, friends, and Texas endlessly, but I know that I would never give this experience up for anything. If you can’t tell by the beautifully-photoshopped picture above (shoutout to Grace), I’m excited!

It’s about time to grab dinner with the family before heading off to the airport, so I’ll be signing off. See y’all after the flight…European style!

Ci vediamo a presto, Bologna!

 

–  Alex