I walked into the study abroad office at Wartburg a year ago. As I entered the small room at the end of the hallway in the business center, I was greeted by the study abroad advisor. I looked at her and said, “I think I want to study abroad.” She looked at me, smiled, and handed me a thick catalogue with the name USAC across the front. She assured me that I came to the right place and that studying abroad would change my life. Little did I know the impact that conversation would have.
I took the lengthy catalogue she gave me and thumbed through it. There were two things that I needed to consider when deciding if studying abroad would be possible for me. 1) The timeline of the program needed to align with Wartburg’s semester and 2) the classes needed to get me closer to graduating. I looked through the book putting tabs on the dreamy places that I wanted to explore and came across Torino, Italy. I was intrigued because it seemed like a hidden gem. I had never heard of Torino before, yet it is home to nearly one million people. Italy was included in some of my top choices to study abroad because of my family background. My grandmother, who passed away the year I was born, was about as Italian as they get. I wanted to learn and explore her culture to get a better sense of how my family described her. I wanted to feel the weight and importance of my middle name which came from her. I wanted to explore this beautiful country and have the means to travel to other European countries. When the time came to make a decision it was easy, Torino would be my home. Out of the thick, 300 page catalogue Torino had the exact dates that I needed and allowed me to take a full course load to keep me on schedule to graduate on time. It’s like it was the perfect fit.
It’s amazing to me how time becomes more precious as the moments left are falling through your fingertips. I have spent the last four months very much enjoying my time, however wishing to be home. I would give myself a half second pity party and then tell myself to move on because when the time came to leave, I wouldn’t want to go. Today I lived my best day in Torino and I think I owe it to the fleeting time. I wanted to follow my normal routine and get coffee from my favorite shop, so I did. I sat and did my morning journaling and reading when my eyes became foggy with tears that were ready to spill. The brioche, the cappuccino, the smells and the sounds. The language (that I never mastered), the older lady who smiles at me every morning when I sit down because she goes to this coffee shop every day too. These moments were so much more beautiful when I allowed my mind to be fully present.
Intentionality has become a word that has shaped the way I live. When time was dwindling during my European adventure I knew that I needed to have intentional conversations with my new friends before I said goodbye. I needed to be intentional with the way I spoke to those around me and encouraged them through their day. I wanted to be intentional about how I spent my time because the countdown home was coming. With intentionality came thankfulness and a changed perspective. When I started my days with thanking the Lord for the way he has provided for me through this experience, I noticed a complete change in my attitude and outlook. Those last days were bittersweet, however I am thankful for the moments I was able to spend strengthening those new relationships I had formed.
Here is my semester in review! I traveled to six different countries including Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, and Czech Republic. I traveled with my grandparents for a weekend which was such a special, memorable experience. My mom and my sister took a trip out to visit Torino for a week and we were able to see Florence, Rome, Pisa and Venice during their time. They were great backpacking partners 🙂 I went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, skied in the Swiss Alps, ate loads of pasta, drank too many cappuccinos, visited the Christmas markets in Vienna and Prague, took many Flixbus rides, a few flights, and managed to (hopefully) pass all my classes. I cannot begin to describe what it feels like leaving Torino after four months. I am so ready to see my family for the holidays, however feel like I’m leaving part of myself behind. I am entering into a time of transitions again. Transitions back to America, to Wartburg, to work, etc and know it will be an adjustment but am excited to see what the future will hold.
Lastly, I wanted to send a sincere thank you to those of you who followed along reading my blog, looking at my pictures, or sending me encouraging messages! It has been so cool and encouraging to receive so much support from family and friends who have been following along on my journey. I simply could not have done this semester without my parents being as supportive as they are. They have always allowed me to dream and work hard to earn the things I want. I am grateful for the jobs I’ve had where I was able to work and earn money to be able to go on this adventure. I am thankful for USAC and Wartburg and the support they gave me throughout this process. I cannot adequately describe how I feel, but I know that I have been changed into a young woman who can love more deeply, encourage more boldly, and live more generously. My heart and perspective are forever changed and for that I am grateful.
Ciao, Arrivederci, Buona Giornata,