For me, the study abroad prep-process is a lot like finding my future husband.
Choosing an actual program is like speed dating, where you have to click through overviews and somehow decide where you want to spend the next semester of your life. Do you want to commit to that adventurous, rugged Melbourne territory? What about that romantic hipster destination of Milan? Or that tech-savvy Tokyo lifestyle that’s completely different from your own?
So many choices. Yet, somehow I found my perfect match. You may call it love at first sight, but the second I read the overview for John Cabot University in Rome, I knew I was in love. A university smack dab in the center of Rome – a city rich with centuries of history and endless amounts of fresh pasta? Sign me up.
But more importantly, JCU will provide me with opportunities that Madison can’t (I know, collective gasp). On top of being able to explore Europe, I will be able to take amazing courses that have zero pre-requisite hoops to jump through – Photojournalism? Graphic Design? A creative writing course that consists of you just wandering through Rome and writing down what you see? That is the epitome of my dream come true.
But now that I’d decided on the perfect trip, there was still the process of impressing him them. You know what I’m talking about, frequent travelers – visas. Maybe it’s because this is my first time out of the states, but I was a nervous pile of wrecks filling out that daunting form. What if they can’t differentiate my 1’s from my 7’s, so they reject me? What if I mark something wrong, so they deem me an idiot unfit to enter their country?
And then there’s the actual making a commitment – buying the plane ticket. Any normal person simply enters the “to” and “from” on Bing Travel, picks the two dates they’re told on the orientation packet, presses submit, and picks the cheapest flight – no questions asked. Me? I have to sit and ponder – can I get a layover in London for a few daylight hours? What if I want to spend a few days in a different country before heading home? Word of advice to any future travelers, learn from my mistakes – just go with the majority and save yourself some sanity.
Even through all the insanity, there is no better feeling on earth to get selected by your perfect study abroad program. It’s that smile that spreads across your face when you get the acceptance e-mail, the way you do a little happy dance when your visa finally arrives in the mail, and the way you get excited butterflies in your stomach as the day slowly approaches. That’s when you know that you’ve picked the right program, and that’s when you know that your life is about to take an amazing turn.
John Cabot University: 59 days and counting.