I am living in Italy…..
Okay sorry I am over two months in and it still is so mind blowing to me. I feel more and more lucky every single day to be here and living the life that I am. It truly is a dream that I never knew I had until I was living it.
I got sucked into study abroad literally just because it sounded fun and I really needed something new. I was so busy with everything at CMU that something like Study Abroad never really even seemed possible to me. I never looked into it because it sounded expensive and out of reach and heck I didn’t even know if I could take classes for my major. I always thought traveling would be fun but never had the biggest itch to do it and one day I literally just said “why not”. I’m pretty sure this was during the same time that I woke up and went to get a tattoo because I was bored and decided to buy a bike just for something to do… I really just needed some excitement clearly. Lucky me (and my wallet) I finally got my fix of new and spontaneous with my new adventure of living abroad.
When I decided to study abroad, it literally went something like Katie saying, “Hey Tessa I’m studying abroad I’m so excited” and me saying “wow that sounds fun I want to go”. Then Katie took me to the office of study abroad 20 minutes later and I payed my application fee and told myself there was no going back after that because I wasn’t wasting $100.
Everyone asked me if I was scared or nervous and obviously I had my moments, but for the most part I never was. I’m so happy to say that I didn’t let myself be afraid or nervous because I knew I just needed to do it. I don’t know what I believe in but I truly think that some things are just supposed to be and you have no control over them. Me coming to Italy for a semester is one of those things. Most people plan this out for months/years before actually applying and deciding to study abroad, and it took me a matter absolutely no convincing from anyone aside from my financial aid adviser telling me I can actually afford it. I really just jumped in on this one and am so happy to say that I never really looked back.
This is a huge deal for me because a year ago I would never buy a t-shirt or eat a meal without over thinking if that’s what I actually wanted. Going with the flow has NEVER been my thing. I am a planner and I like to have every detail laid out. This is very beneficial for me as a student with a major in recreation and event management, but as a kid in college I really just add to my own stress with this. Seeing progress in myself to be able to just jump into things and trust that it’ll all work out is so comforting and rewarding and I hope this inspires others to just go with their gut and do whatever makes you happy without always overthinking every possible consequence.
With this being said, let me talk about some more about the amazing opportunities that I have had since leaving my home in the Mitten to create a temporary home in the Boot (see what I did there(; ). I have traveled SO MUCH. I am so so lucky to be doing things that nobody in my group of friends and family never has. Since leaving the U.S., I hit Canada for a plane ride into Germany to catch another flight to Italy where I would unpack in my cute little apartment on Via Pietrapiana for the next three and a half months! I would settle in with three other girls from CMU, Ciera, Megan, and Katie, and get surprised with two other roommates, Emma from Florida, and Caroline from Denmark!
Let me BOAST about my roomies for a second… Traveling is great but I will say it until the day I die, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s who you are with and I got SO LUCKY to have this experience with these lovely ladies. I have had endless laughs and spent way too much money on pizza and gelato with these girls and I would not have it any other way. I miss my friends and family at home more than anything but I am so thankful to be living with girls who make the thought of going home just as hard as being here because I never want to say goodbye to them.
First I want to talk about Katie a little because I already touched on Katie a little earlier. So like I said earlier, I wouldn’t be here without Katie. Katie is the one who was like “Tessa… c’mon” and I was like “Katie, where do I sign up”. Also s/o to you for telling me how to do all of the paperwork because lord knows I wouldn’t have gotten through that without you. Coming to Italy would have been terrifying if I didn’t have someone that I knew and I am so lucky that that person was Katie. Katie truly is one of the most genuine and nice people that I have ever met. Moving across the world with Katie was so comfortable because I knew that Katie would always have my back no matter what. I knew that even if Katie and I got in a huge fight over who stole whose shirt, I would be able to cry on her shoulder ten minutes later if I needed to. Katie is one of those people who can easily be taken advantage of because of how giving and caring she is, but I am so lucky to have someone like that in my life, especially during this experience.
Next is Megan. Megan is like me in another body but shorter and more blonde. Megan makes me laugh.. a lot. Which is my favorite thing ever to do so you could say she’s one of my favorite people. I’ve found really that I just relate to Megan on a lot of levels which I am so lucky to have because I don’t think I would have survived this far without her. Megan and I are really just always on the same page and thinking the same thing which makes for a whole lot of fun and adventures. Megan acts like a hard ass but really cares so much about everyone and everything and I admire that so much. Megan is real and will tell you what’s up but would never ever hurt anyone’s feelings and won’t stop talking about how bad she feels if she thinks she did. I look up to Megan a ton (take that in Megan, I’ll never say it again) and hope that other people see me the way that I see her.
Ciera. Holy moly. Ciera is so positive and I wish that I could have the mindset that she does. Ciera is always positive and looking for more things to do and people to meet. I used to think I was an extrovert until I met Ciera and realized I don’t even compare. Ciera just loves people and having fun. I can guarantee that if you are with Ciera, you are going to have a fun time. I really admire how Ciera never thinks to far into anything and just lets things happen as they do. Ciera never stresses too much about the things that she can’t control and I wish that I was more like that. I am so lucky to have Ciera as a roommate to remind me that we are supposed to be reckless and having fun and living the best life we can. I am constantly reminded by Ciera that all we have is right now and all we really have control over is what we do with what we are given.
Next is my sweet Emma. Emma is my favorite person to be in Florence with because she is the only person I have ever met that might have a bigger sweet tooth than me (aka lots of shameless gelato runs). Emma is such a sweetheart and the biggest fashionista ever. Emma is just so cute and passionate and does her own thing and I admire that so much. Emma isn’t too obsessed with what anyone else is doing or saying and really just does what makes her happy which I love and hope I take away from being Emma’s friend at the end of these 16 weeks together. Emma also is feisty. I said she was sweet and that is true, but honestly don’t make Emma mad because she will let you know and I really love this as well. Emma is the perfect balance and of nice and sweet while not being afraid to let you know if something bothers her. Emma is so determined and works so hard and I truly just hope that all of her dreams come true because she deserves it. I adore Emma so much and I am so sad for the day I have to say goodbye to this cute little button.
Oh, Caroline. Caroline is something that I will just never be able to put into words. My Danish roommate is the coolest person I have ever met. I mean when I think of who I want to be someday it is Caroline. To say it blatantly, Caroline has her shit together. Caroline is so sweet and has such a brilliant mind with a comforting energy. Caroline is so humble and is pretty much the only thing holding this house together yet never views herself as superior to anyone. Caroline is basically our house mom. I mean for sure we would all be in some weird Italian jail if Caroline didn’t know how to talk us out of any sticky situation we could possible get ourselves into (and you’d be surprised you guys, some crazy stuff happens in Italy). Caroline has taught me so much about what it looks like to be a mature adult while also letting go and having fun as much as you can. If I had to pick one person to be the definition of perfect, it would be Caroline Fraulo.
Study Abroad has brought me so many amazing opportunities, but I am even more lucky to have been brought to these amazing people who have taught me more about the person I want to be. I never thought that I would learn some of the things that I have during Study Abroad but I am so lucky that I have.
As for the “Study” part of study abroad, I have been taking some AMAZING classes here in Italy. I am enrolled in Italian Vegetarian Cooking, Wedding and Ceremony Event Planning, Health and Fitness in the Mediterranean, Sport Event and Facility Management, and Sports Marketing. To give you a short run down, I love being vegetarian and swear this whole world should be vegetarian healthy healthy happy WOW. Weddings. I love weddings so much. And planning them? My dream. Health and Fitness, I am so passionate about and so lucky to get to learn about it. Sports are super cool but not my favorite thing to plan. Sports are still cool but sometimes all you have to learn is that it’s not something you like and that is how I feel about marketing (please let this class be done soon, I am dying).
Now, the “Abroad” part of study abroad. I started my journey on January 23, leaving the U.S. for Canada where I would fly to Germany, and then Italy. Once settled here, I planned trips to a ton of different places. The first trip I took was to Venice, Italy and then to Rome, Italy all while getting to explore my own home in Florence. I then took my first trip out of the country to Interlaken, Switzerland for some sledding in the Swiss Alps followed by a trip to Krakow, Poland to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps from World War two. After that, I went on a spring break trip which consisted of a few days in each of London in the UK, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Paris, France. I then took a quick trip to Corfu, Greece for a few days in the sun and now have just a few weeks left to explore more of Florence, and two more cities in Italy called Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast! I could talk all day about how amazing each one of these places were but I think it is easy to imagine how being engulfed in so many different cultures in environments can be so overwhelming yet so educational and call for growth in so many different ways!
Overall, I think that I could have about twelve different blog posts about my experiences abroad, but to be honest I am way to busy living this life right now to go that in depth about every experience I hope to have the opportunity to sit down more later and talk about my different experiences abroad, but for now just know that this has been the greatest experience of my life and while I am so excited to come home and get back into some kind of normal routine, I am so so sad for this dream to be coming to an end soon.