T-Minus Seven Days: How I’m Preparing for my Departure to Rome

Allison Derrick headshot
Allison Derrick
January 22, 2024

Ciao! My name is Allison, and I am a junior at Lafayette College, fortunate to say I’m almost en route to Rome for the whole spring semester. I’m about to begin something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was eight years old. As January 29th draws closer and closer, there is a lot to consider. Will my flight arrive on time? What kind of adapter do I need? How many pairs of jeans should I pack? 

Although some of my official application materials came down to the wire timewise, I’ve been envisioning this semester for as long as I can remember. With that in mind, I’ve been working on both the mental and material preparation for some time now, some things more superficial and others more meaningful. I have my summer savings from my restaurant job stockpiled, I figured out my suitcase setup, and I have a sense of what to do about a data plan for my phone. After a solid trip to Target, I’m set on my essentials for the semester. Once all of the visa paperwork snares were behind me and a renewed passport was in my hand, I shifted my focus to more emotional matters. I’ve listened to advice from my brother, who spent a semester hiking in Patagonia, about how to stay present and take it all in. While still on campus, I realized that those initial details are ones that are solvable. I can arrive early to the Boston airport to ensure peace of mind, I can figure out the adapter situation, and I can narrow down my clothing, challenging as it may be. These all feel like tangible items to check off my to-do list. These things, I can organize and pack and square away for January 29th. 

However, as the fall semester of my junior year drew to an emotional, gratifying end, I became sentimental– and more and more aware of how I needed to prepare mentally. It occurred to me that by January 29th, I will have said a tough goodbye to my senior friends who will graduate at the end of this semester, and I will never share the campus with them again. On January 29th, I’ll have to part ways with my family and my dog, Izzy, for a couple months. I need to embrace the bittersweetness of leaving the college campus and life and home that I love for an entire semester that will be absolutely life-changing. 

This aspect of preparation, although wistful, led me to appreciate every moment I had with my friends, every group I’m a part of, and every mundane moment on campus—because I truly, truly will miss it. The fall semester hours elapsed so quickly I barely even noticed once it became finals week, and suddenly I was packing up my room and moving out, hugging my friends goodbye. As the last few moments of the semester wound down, I made it my mission to stretch them as far as I could. I purposely walked slower to let the campus scenes sink in, I stayed extra long at my friends’ houses, willing the homemade dinners and movie nights to go on forever, and I no longer wished away the hours of my least interesting class. There were only so many left where I would be exactly here. Once I delayed the nostalgia from setting in as long as I could, I realized that I am ready to go to Rome and begin this new chapter in my life. I’ve been waiting for this. 

Many things will happen while I’m there—I’ll turn 21 years old, live somewhere I have never lived before, and have five roommates, four of whom I haven’t met yet. I will learn a language, or at least try to, meet so many people, and learn so much about myself. I will make it a goal to learn to cook more than just pasta and avocado toast. Although it comes with a fair share of sadness, I feel more and more ready as the days draw closer. I can definitely follow a packing list, and I can stand to leave a pair of jeans behind. I’ve been gathering advice from my friends who have already been abroad, and I can learn to part ways for now with the setting I’m in. I will miss my family, and I will miss Maine. It’s comforting that I can look forward to a summer at home, followed by senior year at Lafayette. Both of my favorite places will be there for me when I return. The preparation I did to leave my junior fall semester behind with gratitude makes me confident that the Rome experience that is waiting for me in between will be just right. 

Now, my suitcases sit open in the hallway, a little less than half packed, and my European adapter is finally on its way in the mail. I’ve been rewatching a marathon of my favorite European movies as inspiration, and I have an Italian pocket-sized phrase book on my nightstand. My preparation has been a holistic, gradual process, usually feeling like it is something so distant it will never happen, but it’s getting real now. I’ve called and consulted my friends about just about everything we may need for our adventure, and I don’t think I could be more excited than I am right now!

On January 29th, 2024, around 7 p.m., I will step foot onto a flight to Europe with a full heart, a packed suitcase, and a mostly prepared mind. Stay tuned for updates about weekend trips, shopping, favorite restaurants and gelato places, and classes! Now, I just need to learn some Italian.

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Allison Derrick headshot

Allison Derrick

Hi, I'm Allison! I’m from Maine and a big fan of iced chai lattes, taking pictures with my 2011 digital camera, some good throwback music, and falling asleep on the beach. I'm in search of finding the very best pasta and gelato in Italy, so join me!

2024 Spring
Home University:
Lafayette College
Environmental Studies
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