After a really rough round of goodbyes, I am finding myself less and less excited to study abroad in Milan. Don’t get me wrong, I am still absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity, but the pure excitement I had a couple weeks ago is transforming into a combination of turbulent nerves and abundant stress. Add onto that the fact that I am a notorious procrastinator, and you can see I have a pretty difficult week ahead of me.
Challenge #1: Packing. My typical packing process is basically just grabbing a shirt and some pants and stuffing them in a bag. I love this strategy, but I don’t want to be walking around Milan in the same outfit for 4 months- someone will eventually notice. What I am left to do now is something I’ve never even attempted, a careful and methodical approach to packing for 4 months of an experience I know absolutely nothing about. I can’t plan for next week, so how should I know what I want to wear in April? Do they wear Birkenstocks in Italy? Because this guy is about to.
Challenge #2: Goodbye! After saying goodbye to my friends in Madison, it really hit me that I was about to embark for 4 months to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Too often I get comfortable with the familiar and I begin to dread the unknown. I’m definitely an extrovert, but meeting this many new people is definitely going to be a challenge. The older you get in life, the harder it is to make friends. Hopefully as everyone else is in the same situation as I am, it will be like freshman year in the dorms, with everyone clamoring to make new friends.
Challenge #3: Anxiety. As a chronic worrier, this impending departure is definitely always in the back of my mind. Not only am I anxious about the new people, the academic challenges will be pretty difficult as well. This falls more into the category of time management, as I hope I have enough time to enjoy being abroad as well as not fail all my classes. Failing all my classes would really put a damper on this whole study abroad thing. Additionally, the language barrier is definitely nerve racking. I know “si” and “no” and that’s about it. Hopefully the only form of communication I have with anyone for the next 4 months will be yes/no questions.
On a more serious note, this is a huge experience and I’m incredibly nervous, but it feels like a good nervousness. Some large things in life make you feel that way. Rather than a dreading of the change, it’s more of an acknowledgement that I need to break out of the Madison bubble. Leaving my amazing friends and life in Madison has been a difficult process, although I know I can take it in stride. That is why I am nervous, however, I am incredibly confident in my ability to adapt, and most importantly, to learn from new these new experiences.
So cheers to a new semester and new beginnings, and I’ll talk to you soon. This time from Milan.