Can’t believe I am more than halfway done with my study abroad exchange!
This experience has already taught me so much about myself and has helped me grow to an even stronger and adaptable person. I’m proud of myself for taking this risk and pushing through my fears.”If you dreams don’t scare you then they aren’t big enough”
So how has it been?
The first few weeks in Milan were challenging. I did not immediately like Milan. I was comparing the speed of how fast I loved London with Milan and it just was not the same. After one week in London I had made a solid group of friends, didn’t miss home at all, and could navigate the city with no problem. Milan was completely different. I was not blown away by the dazzle of the city. After seeing the Duomo I was like “what else is there?”. It took a lot more effort to adjust to Italy.
The making friends part required more work than I expected. Since I wasn’t in the Italian crash course many people were in, there was no setting where I could mix and mingle. There were some awkward cocktail parties but everyone seemed to already know each other or hung out with people from their schools. It was just weird and I was exhausted from comparing myself to people who had a whole squad within two weeks lol. So I just chilled. I fell back. And took the pressure off myself of trying to find friends. If I had 2 people to hang out then oh well I just had 2 people to hang out. Patience is what I learned in the first month here. I would rather wait for people I actually like and would hang out with back home then to be annoyed and out of place in a circle of people just to say I have “friends”. So I waited. I was less stressed and developed a routine. I would go somewhere new each week. I took pictures and enjoyed the sun while it lasted. It took almost 6 weeks to feel acclimated and make friends I enjoyed being around. If I did not know how to have fun by myself it would’ve been a miserable first six weeks!
What am I going to do today that will make me happy?
YOU CAN’T DEPEND ON HAVING PEOPLE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY? What will you do when you’re miles away from the people that make you feel happy? I took it day by day (daibydai lol) and did things that would put a smile on my face. One day at a time is how I got through feeling lonely. And I soon liked it.
Always looking forward to something really helped me during the beginning stages homesickness. I would smile when thinking about an upcoming trip to Rome or finally going to Venice kept me in a positive mindset.Up until now I was literally going somewhere new every weekend. And that’s when I put things into perspective. This literally is my dream. I remember being at scholarship meetings for high school and going around saying what our goals were for college and I said “studying abroad”. My second week at UW I set a meeting up with my advisor to talk about studying abroad. I always planned ahead and now I can live in the dream I had for over 5 years. I was seeing the big picture and I felt more joyful.
I’ve had to do so many new things on my own. Working though stressful situation and celebrating even the smallest victories are important.I think living here has helped me become proactive and confident in my problem solving skills. Getting lost, figuring out how to vote from abroad, paying rent, permit of stay procedures are all very taxing but I had to do it and did it on my own. Things like going to the grocery store would give me such anxiety. I would literally wait till I had nothing to eat because I hated the feeling of being asked something in Italian and feeling embarrassed to not know what they were saying. There was this one time when I held the whole line up because I brought non-food items to the checkout and they were having trouble scanning the notebooks. It took like 20 minutes to get it solved and after that I was just so over it. I was stressed and didn’t want to go through anything like that again but I eventually needed more food and had to try it again. How could I have known what to do on the first try? Not possible to know exactly what to do all of the time and that’s okay. Awkward moments happen. People are nice and I don’t need to be harsh on myself for not being a local, knowing the language, or making mistakes. Get your food and go on about you day because these people sure will!
With such a chill class schedule I realize this is the most stress free I’ve been since starting college. No club organization commitments, no interviews, no midterms, classes are easy, and just travelling to the places I’ve always wanted to go. I’ve worked so hard and constantly so this break is definitely something well deserved and appreciated. This was the feeling I was seeking when I applied. I had forgot why I wanted to do this, when the date to come to Italy approached. What was it that I wanted to experience again? The feeling of being free. The excitement. And new experiences that helped me grow. That is what I missed when I came back from London and immediately knew I wanted to leave again. Travelling is just so exhilarating and it is a blessing I am able to experience it.
Now that it is halfway over I guess what’s on my mind is how to take this carefree black girl feeling and transfer it back to when I’m in the States. I know I have a lot more responsibility when I am back home and I slightly don’t feel ready for it. So I am living in the moment and taking everything in. I said this last year but I do want to explore Seattle more. I want to explore it the same way I do the cities I go to in Europe. I think even though I am abroad, my mindset has changed and taking this mindset back home will make a difference in how I approach these responsibilities that can sometimes take a toll on me.
So the next time I have an interview, 3 group projects, and it’s dead week at school, I can think about how I made it through the obstacles abroad and that confidence will be with me through every new situation I encounter.