I am asked frequently why I am studying abroad. For one, I am fortunate enough to attend a university that has international campuses, so studying abroad is very common among my classmates. Spending a semester abroad is preferred, but due to my work obligations, I must study during the summer. Additionally, I would have to take summer courses anyway to graduate by next spring, so why not take the courses in a different country?
I have been to Rome and other European destinations before, but for no more than a few days. In high school, I planned on visiting Germany for 3 weeks as a part of an exchange program, but my doctor would not allow me due to health complications. (As a legal adult now, I frankly don’t give a damn because I would be sick here or there!) My sister and I always planned on backpacking through Europe together during college, but life happens and now my sister is a mom!
All buts aside, I am studying abroad because of more than just an open opportunity. This last year, I was enrolled in more than the maximum allowed credits each semester because I want to graduate in four years. As hell-ish as this was, I learned a lot from spending a lot of time in the classroom and in my studies.
An education is not about a GPA or what can be derived from a textbook. An education is an experience.
I learned so much this year, but hardly any of it was learned in the business law classroom or in my dreaded finance textbook. I learned from new experiences. As an LCA, I took on new duties (but not actually duty!) that I had never before imagined. I presented at 4 different conferences. I worked with a variety of people on a variety of tasks. I saw more of Chicago than I have in my previous two years living there. I learned through experiences, interactions, and people.
Yes, I am actually looking forward to my two classes while abroad. However, I’m more excited to be submerged in a different culture. I look forward to being an outsider and a minority. I want to not be checking my phone every 5 seconds! I want to be a tourist, but I also want to people-watch and try new things. I don’t want to take 5000 pictures of churches that I won’t even care about the next day. I want to be uncomfortable. My main goal this year has been to venture outside my comfort zone. Although I can’t stop complaining about trying to pack 2 months into 1 suitcase, I’m looking forward to relative simplicity. All black every day? Yes please. Mediterranean diet? Yes please.
I’m really going to miss lifting and teaching fitness classes. I’ll miss dancing. I’ll miss Mexican food!!! I will probably be sicker than normal, but I have a questionable amount of medicine packed in preparation! I hope to use this blog to detail my experiences, but I will be limited to my iPhone and the computers in the library. I’m sure I will post on Facebook and Instagram as often as possible, as well as Snapchat with every possible European filter because duh it’s me. iMessage will still work when I am using Wi-Fi, but when in doubt, use Facebook to contact me.
My trip begins in Dublin for 2 days before visiting London for 2 days, then I will fly into Rome where I will live at the John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) for 5 weeks. I plan on making excursions to Florence, Barcelona, and the Amalfi Coast during my stay. Once my studies are complete, I will travel for a couple of weeks to before flying home from Berlin on June 29.