When I first arrived at RDU airport and said goodbye to my loved ones I never in a million years imagined what was ahead of me. I knew studying abroad would be a great experience and that I could use the credits. I figured studying in Italy for the summer would be better than studying in Raleigh for the summer. I knew I would see some amazing things and have a lot of homework. I honestly, for some crazy reason, thought it would be just like any other class; but, I was in for quite the surprise.
Eleven strangers gathered at RDU looking equally ridiculous with our backpacks almost equaling our own size. We all shed a couple tears saying goodbye to our families, but we all eyes dried and cleared to have the same look of going into the unknown. As our seemingly eternal day of travel progressed we became acquainted with one another and the reality that we were actually doing ‘this’ set in with overwhelming force. We were actually going to Italy and we were actually going to live there for five weeks.
I have done my fair share of traveling so, long, uncomfortable travel days and jet lag really didn’t faze me. I was prepared for that, I knew that I would be traveling for over twenty-four hours and I knew I would have to adjust to time schedule that was six hours ahead of South-Eastern United States. What I was not prepared for was the learning the curve. They told me I would have culture shock, homesickness, and an intense amount of homework. I just thought that I would be able to handle it. I did not think it would be easy, but I did not think it would be nearly as difficult as I found it to be. Between the imminent issues that arise when eleven women are living on top of each other, the copious amounts of essays, and not having anything that you can attach to from home it was far more than I had prepared myself for. I must admit there were several days where I thought, “What the heck was I thinking singing up for this? I must be crazy!” However, my mental state was never better.
I am the kind of person that if you do not ruffle my nest I will never fly. Studying abroad gave me just the push I needed to grow. I grew in far more ways than I could have ever imagined. This experience forced me to grow as person. I had to deal with social situations when there was no time to separate; there’s nowhere to run and hide in the Palazzo. I also learned to deal with incredibly quick deadlines. Doing two semester quality classes in five weeks is no easy task. Deadlines come much faster than they do during the regular school year. This has pushed me to grow academically as a student. I never thought I would be capable of finishing all of the work well, but I did! I learned travel skills that will, no doubt, be employed for the rest of my life. I gained confidence as student and a person, but perhaps best of all I gained a new home and a new family.
When I first arrived in Sansepolcro I thought that it was a very pretty, very quaint little town. While Sansepolcro is those things it is also home. Every travel break I looked forward to coming home; home to the Palazzo, home to my sisters, our professors, ra’s, and Margharita’s hot lunches. I looked forward to coming home where I knew the people of the town and they knew me. Where there were familiar faces. I was totally caught off guard by this feeling of home and family. This was probably the pleasant surprise of all.
I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to come here and be a part of the Meredith sisterhood in Sansepolcro. A sisterhood I am certain is just getting started. The benefits far outweigh the cost and I would not trade this experience for gold. I consider it an invaluable step in my journey not only as student, but as a person and I would strongly encourage anyone and everyone to take this leap, push yourself and see the amazing things that you are capable of accomplishing!