I have to admit I never really saw myself studying abroad.
I remember sitting at freshman orientation during the studying abroad presentation and thinking to myself there is no way I can afford this. The University of Tennessee Study Abroad Office made it sound so easy to just travel to another country.
In retrospect it was a long process, but looking back I can see it was worth it.
It started with acquiring the funds.
After getting a journalism scholarship, the Hope summer scholarship and working long hours at a movie theater, I was finally able to afford my trip to Italy.
The next step involved some interesting logistics.
After several studying abroad orientations and hearing my mom recite to me the plot of the movie: “Taken,” and learning where the U.S. Embassy was, I was finally ready to get on the plane to Urbino, Italy.
I never thought it could happen, but I firmly believe that in life everything happens for a reason.
That’s not to say that there weren’t challenges along the way. I was knee deep in culture shock for at least the first week, and I would’ve given anything for my room to have air conditioning.
However, looking back now, those were all just petty things. They feel like minor bumps in the road when you consider how amazing it was to stand in front of the statue of “David” by Michelangelo or to feel the breeze in your hair while you stand inside the Colosseum.
I’ll never forget the best spaghetti I ever ate in Italy and the sweet Italian lady that made it for me.
So, what did I learn from studying abroad in Italy?
I learned that everything good comes with some sort of challenge.
You just can’t let those challenges ruin the amazing experiences you are going to have. I’ll never get a first time in Italy again, but I’ll always have my little comforts and my home in America.
I met the coolest UT students, ate delicious pizza and walked where Romans did thousands of years ago.
So don’t worry about the money. Apply for scholarships and plan on saving for at least six months. It’s all worth it, and in the end when you’re standing in your dream destination, you’ll know that everything you did to get there made you a stronger person.
Edited Maggie Jones