I have nightmares about packing. They usually involved the same scenario – I’m about to leave on the trip of a lifetime, but I haven’t started packing yet! What will I need? What have I forgotten? I run to the airport with a half-empty suitcase, only to be woken up by my phone alarm and a desperate need for a cup of coffee. As a result, I have officially banned myself from asking the question of “what if?” over the next two weeks. This is the question that has led to my serial over-packing the last few years of college, as in “What if I need three different sizes of glass pie pans?” “What if it’s above seventy degrees for more than one week and I wish I’d brought more sun dresses?” “What if it snows the first week in October and I haven’t packed my snow boots?” You get the picture. I was always in envy of my roommate Emily, who didn’t bring a single pie pan and left her snow boots home until November and still managed to be a happy, functioning human being. Meanwhile, I required two cars to move all of my impulsive what-if items to college with me. These anecdotes swirl in my mind as I try to visualize how I will pack five months of my life into a suitcase, a duffel bag, and a violin case that doesn’t fit much more than a violin. I stare at my empty luggage and imagine that its contents will be the difference between a calm, collected, fashionable Elizabeth arriving at Malpensa with the air of a seasoned jet-setter – and a frazzled, jet-lagged Elizabeth with hair that screams transatlantic flight staring blankly at a train schedule with the other fanny-pack-toting tourists trying to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B. As I begin to lay out my clothes and tour books, I smile and reflect that I have at least one thing going for me: I’m not bringing a fanny pack.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Elizabeth Benz is a lifetime upstate New York resident who never takes the snow brush out of the back seat of her car. Originally from Buffalo, NY, she is a senior Music Education/Violin Performance major and Italian minor at Ithaca College. These three passions were intertwined on a life-changing trip in 2006 to the International Suzuki Method Conference in Turin, Italy, where she not only saw the communicative power of music across young artists from many nationalities, but also fell in love with the language and culture of the country. Eight years later she is fulfilling the promise she made to herself to return to Italy, after completing her senior student teaching practicum. She is particularly interested in observing the emphasis and importance placed on youth music and arts programs across Europe, and returning with ideas to inspire and support her own program at a future teaching job.</span></p>