Being Present in The Prep!

Cameron Clark
January 23, 2019

Hello! Thanks for clicking! Mini-introduction, I’m a junior screenwriting major that will be traveling to Rome for the Film & Media program provided by IES Abroad. I chose this program last minute through a series of events that closed all the other doors. I really wanted a writing program in Spain. This non-existent (at least not in my time frame) program would have been great for 3 reasons. First, I took 5 years of spanish so I know the language pretty well. Second, I’m Portuguese and a little Spanish, so I could do some family history exploring. And third, I’ve had multiple friends go to Spain and tell me all about the beautiful culture and people. To say the least I was sold on this imaginary program. Yet, it seems that God has made a different path for me whether I like it or not. However, I’m glad it happened this way because I’m super excited for this opportunity and one of a kind experience. Hopefully, you guys will follow me all the way through this journey.

Too Much, Too Soon

A month prior to leaving, I was a bit overwhelmed at the exponential amount of preparation I needed to do. So I did what a reasonable person would do and continued to do nothing. Classic. Who knew a writer procrastinates?! All joking aside, there is quite a lot to be done and a lot to prep. I still get butterflies in my stomach when I think about the fact I know more Italian than I do people going on the trip. And I know very little Italian. I will be living in a country pretty different from the one I know and love. But I will rise to the challenge and face whatever comes my way with a smile no matter if it’s good or bad! Growth baby! So recently I’ve been packing, learning Italian, making time for family, earning money for trip and reflecting as much as possible. All necessities!

Packing Up a Life

Packing is quite obvious but I didn’t realize how much I had to pack to make this experience a pleasant one. Clothes, yup. Toiletries, of course. Backpack with school supplies, absolutely. Paperwork and Passport, indeed. Money (Euros) and money belt, yes sir (or ma'am). Laptop and electronic accessories, certainly. Camera, roger that. Chargers and adaptors, affirmative. The trickiest part of this process is that it’s a balancing act; I have a ton of stuff but a limited amount of space to transport said stuff. In this tightrope walk, I have been forced into minimalism. Challenge accepted!  

Learning The Language

Learning Italian has by far been the most challenging labor of this preparation. At first, the struggle was to find time to learn it. A popular excuse running through my mind was “Oh it won’t be that tough, Spanish is similar”. Then I started studying Italian and again excuses came to me, “The accent is different and weird, just learn it in Italy”. Right now my excuse is “I hope to God they speak English”. Nevertheless I have made an effort for about 30 minutes a day the last two weeks or so. The struggle is real. The last weeks have been filled with youtube videos of beginners Italian and a popular phrase book in Italian (a gift from my Grandpa). I usually practice when I’m about to go to sleep because of the increased mental capacity for learning at that time. This gives my brain the smallest amount of time to forget what I learned and transfer the Italian from the short term to the long term memory. Work smart not hard. What I was surprised (and saddened) to find out was that IES Abroad offers free Rosetta Stone. Are you kidding me? A hidden resource that I squandered. Oh well. At least, I have it now.

Money vs Family

Another factor in my study abroad preparation is earning money. I’ve been working for my Step-dad’s company and DoorDash. This is a key aspect for me due to cost of the program and my desire to live and experience Rome at ease. Thus, my time is at a premium. Wow, as diva as that might sound, it’s true. Time is money. But I realized family should also be a priority. They have continued to support me through my life and now this life-changing opportunity. So, I decided to be a grown up and spend quality time even if that means I earn less money for the trip. In the end, everything will work out and family comes first.


The last thing I have done to prepare is reflection. Reflection has kept me grounded in this time of pre-departure. I have easily navigated through the needless stuff to what’s important. Reflection has helped me become present in this preparation. I have been present in packing which has made it easier to decipher useful from useless. I have been present in learning the language so I can make the most of my study time. I have been present with my family and resources so that my time is invaluable. AND I will be present in Rome to make the most of my time there!

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Cameron Clark

I'm an adventurous writer that loves to stay active whether that's in the gym or outside. My hobbies include photography, music, and comedy. In writer fashion, I enjoy immortalizing these memories with narratives.

2019 Spring
Home University:
Azusa Pacific University
Fair Oaks, CA
Film Studies
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