Last time I wrote on here I was sitting in my bed while my suitcases layed open on my bedroom floor daunting me. I wrote about my nerves and anxieties and how I lacked any feeling of sufficient preparation for this trip. I was excited, but terrified; and, if I’m being honest, none of that was necessary. None of my fears or worries ever really came to fruition. Yes, it’s good to be prepared for some things to go south, but allowing my fears to diminish my excitement was a little much.
This time, I’m writing to you at my dorm room’s desk staring out a window onto the streets of Milan, Italy. I’m settled in, I’ve started my three-week-long Italian intensive course and Milan is now my new home. There are a million things that I don’t know about Milan yet—let alone Italy—but part of me feels like I already belong here. In short, it’s not so scary. To catch you up to speed on my past week, I’ve been shopping around the Duomo attempting to mimic the style and fashion culture that this city embodies, tested as many restaurants as possible, and even found a few of my go-to spots. Besides the fact that no restaurant or grocery store has ranch, and hot sauce doesn’t seem to be a popular thing here, life in Milan doesn’t seem all that different from Chicago or even Bloomington.
The point of my position as a writer and part-time social media correspondent for IES Abroad is to help guide potential abroad students and possibly convince them to take a leap of faith and go abroad. So I wanted to tell a little story about my favorite night that I’ve spent here so far. On the very first night of being here, two of my best friends and I found a rooftop restaurant that faces the Duomo—an insane view up close. A few nights later I went back to that same restaurant, for future reference, Obica, with friends—some old some new. We spent hours talking, telling stories about each other, laughing and sharing good food and wine. One of my favorite parts of Milan has been the live music and performances that set stage on the cobblestone streets bordering the Duomo. That night, on our walk back home, an older man was playing his trumpet to the tune of a famous song from the 50s. We all jokingly slowed dance with one another and sang along while the Duomo glowed in our background, although in retrospect I can’t remember the song. Maybe I’m romanticizing this trip a little too much, but I think that’s the only correct way to go about studying abroad. Every night feels like Christmas when you know you’re waking up in such an amazing city, it’s hard not to romanticize even the smallest things.
Although traveling back in the United States is fun, and with our country being as large as it is, it’s easy to find a brand new place to travel to, the possibilities of traveling here in Europe are not only endless, but so different than anything I could have experienced in the States. This weekend my best friend and I are taking a trip to Rome to experience a bit more of Italy and the history it holds. I’m not a huge fan of doing touristy things, but to say I visited the Trevi Fountain and/or the Collaseum is hard to not appreciate. In a few weeks we plan to go to Florence, Venice and eventually some new countries. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending my time in Milan; but, as some might say, I’m trying to grab my time abroad by the “jugular,” and go anywhere and everywhere. In the least self-centered way possible, I’m jealous of my own life that I’m currently living.
I’m sure I’ll have more crazy stories to tell down the road, and I’ll be sure to share them on here; but, my intentions for this blog entry are to solidifiy every promise I made previously. All of my “words of wisdom,” per se, were true. Everything turned out okay, and it will for you too. The memories I’ve made here so far, and that you will one day, are all too precious to have allowed my fears to keep from me. I’ll say it again and again, take that leap. What if it turns out to be better than you ever imagined—it did for me.
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<p>Hello, my name’s Gracie Weinstein and I am a junior studying political science and journalism. Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved to write and have always tried to use my writing to tell stories with others about some of the best, or maybe worst, experiences in my life. I believe in the power of words and the ability it has to connect strangers with one another through their experiences, whether they are shared experiences or not. Writing humanizes people, and helps others relate to them — it cuts down on barriers such as physical appearances (how one’s life looks) and allows for strangers to understand each other. Whether or not those who read my work or see my posts have themselves studied abroad or plan to study abroad, documenting each scary, fun, jaw-dropping, or brand new experience I encounter is so special to share with them. I am very much looking forward to sharing my next few months abroad with others, and hopefully inspire them to make the same decision that I did. Ciao!</p>