Trusting Myself

Anastasia Hernando
April 4, 2022

When I was choosing where to study abroad, I never had a doubt in my mind. I had my heart set on Italy for some strange reason, and a few years later, here I am. 

Looking back on it, sometimes I question my confidence in this choice. I didn’t speak Italian whatsoever and never took a class until I arrived. I could’ve made it much easier for myself by going to another country that spoke English and Spanish. Why not stay in my comfort zone? 

This past weekend, I visited my best friend who is studying abroad in Madrid. I had a great time visiting there because I love the country. Staying with an exchange family for a few weeks in the past, I was reminded of my past exceptional experiences there. Once I had arrived, I felt the comfort of knowing the language immediately. Ordering or asking a question wasn’t restricted by a language barrier. Consequently, we had delicious food, wine and company with other Spanish students. Not to mention the tortillas and bocatas were amazing, reminding me of my own cuban culture. 

A part of me wonders why I didn’t study abroad in Spain. I could’ve brushed up on my Spanish, immersing myself in a culture by speaking to other locals. It may be silly to consider now, because I am already studying in Italy. Still, I can’t help but wonder, why Italy? My only explanation is that something inside me told me to come here. Maybe there should be a more concrete and rational explanation, but that's my answer. 

There has always been a very fulfilling aspect to my experience because I decided to honor that inner voice. Listening to myself when making decisions has become an everyday practice in my life that I highly recommend. By choosing Italy, I was also choosing my own deliberate lifestyle. I seem to be listening to myself more and more here; wearing what I want and speaking my mind have become much easier than they ever have been. Even when I’m scared to act on my inner desires, it's always rewarding in the end. 

Also, there is a sort of warmth to Spanish culture that I also have recognized in Italy, especially in the little things. I’ve learned to enjoy my food or wine deliberately instead of just eating or drinking. From my Italian professor, I’ve become inspired to learn the language as much as possible. I have found that observing my surroundings while walking somewhere is more common than walking to arrive at a destination. I think choosing this place for myself and actually enjoying it is what has excited me the most. 

I feel as though this experience has changed me already. Deciding to come to an unknown place has allowed me to access parts of myself that I had been restricting. Taking on this experience by myself in a big city has fed my soul a certain joy that I forgot was possible. So far, I have been reminded of my desire for freedom and curiosity in everyday life. 

I’m more than halfway through my program now. It’s crazy just how quickly time flies. I used to be scared that I wouldn’t get what I have been needing out of this experience, but I’m not anymore. I’m confident that, regardless how the rest of my program ends, I have gotten something out of this. 

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Anastasia Hernando

<p>Anastasia Hernando is a student at the University of Michigan, majoring in Political Science and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She is currently working on writing her Political Science thesis on labor rights of the textile industry. Her passion&nbsp;for human rights motivates her to learn more about government and philosophy while studying abroad in Rome, Italy during Spring 2022. Additionally, her interest in social media and business excite her about her opportunity to share her experiences as a IDEA Correspondent.</p>

2022 Spring
Home University:
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Miami, FL
Political Science
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