You are here

No One Said it Was Going to be Easy

February 26, 2018

I’ve been in Italy for a little over a month now and I want to say that this has been the best and also toughest semester of my life. Going abroad isn’t and will not be easy. There will be things that you will miss and if you are going to a country that doesn’t speak English, the language barrier will always be in the back of your mind. As someone who identifies as a person of color, it has been particularly challenging in some regards, but I have tried my best to willingly open my eyes and ears to the experiences of others. Here are a few things that keep me going through the toughest of days:

1) This is a once in a lifetime experience. I wake up everyday and still can’t believe that I am overseas. I am surrounded by the world’s best examples of art and fashion here in Milan. If I feel the slightest bit sad, I listen to my favorite music or take a walk to see the Duomo which still give me chills everytime I see it. Even if you do it alone, go explore. It will remind you why you are here. 

2) Italians are just as curious as I am about language and culture. I’ve listened to their dreams about traveling to America and then realize I’m living my dream of traveling to Italy. HOW COOL IS THAT? And sometimes, It’s difficult to answer questions about tough topics like ethnicity, religion or politics and it’s okay to say that you don’t want to answer. More often than not, these conversations have led to friendships for me and I’m really happy to have shared stories about my background and Native American heritage. Here in Italy, I have yet to meet another Native American but I’m not surprised by this. My wish is for more of my people to see places like Italy. 

3) I miss the food from home, but let me tell you a couple of things about Italian food culture. It is typical to go out and eat and drink with friends and there are plenty of places to explore. I also have been addicted to Italian coffee which is perfect any time of day for a little boost. I was asked by an Italian friend of mine about American food the other night: “Is it true that in America, they put ketchup on pasta?” This spiraled into a conversation about Honey Boo Boo Child and her creation known as “Sghetti”. If you don’t know it, look it up! These interactions really lifted my spirits and some unexpected friendships have come out of them. The next night I went to a movie with a few collegio students. You will make friends, and it may take time but when you do, don’t be afraid to ask to join them. After all, they know all the best places to go and what to do around Milan. 

Overall it is going to be an experience filled with highs and lows and that’s just a reality I didn’t think about before I left. As for now, I am becoming more and more acquainted with the beautiful country and it will always have a special place in my heart. Stay tuned for my next post about my recent travels!

From Our Blogs

Jun 22 1:37pm

6 Students Share Their LGBTQ+ Study Abroad Experience

by IES Abroad

Our IES Abroad Correspondents share their experiences within the LGBTQ+ community around the world.

Learn more
Jun 22 7:44am

What To Do If You Get Pick-pocketed From Someone Who Has Been There

by Kara

It had been an amazing weekend. A group of friends and I went to Milan, Italy and walked around the city, making sure to stop at the best restaurants and gelato stands.

Learn more
Jun 20 2:14pm

Bittersweet. Last Excursion to Southern Europe

by Destiny

Wow. 

I can't believe that this amazing study abroad experience has come to an end. 

Learn more
Jun 20 8:24am

American Abroad - Rome, Week 4

by Briana Maddox

    One month down, and a little over one month left to go until I’m back home in America. Time seems to fly by here, and it feels like I haven’t been able to do half of what I’ve wanted to do during my time here.

Learn more
Jun 20 12:34am

Sparkly Red Shoes

by Erin

There’s no point in sugar-coating it- study abroad so far has been a mixed bag. Managing the push and pull of wanting to explore an entire country and of making the most of an almost-job is a whole bunch, all at once.

Learn more
Jun 19 4:13pm

They forgot to pick up the trash, again.

by Idil

My volunteering experience in Buenos Aires

Learn more