Pushing Past the Fears

Kristina Azevedo
January 12, 2016

Even though I am just days away from departure, I still can’t believe this is actually happening.  I’m spending a semester in Siena, Italy!  I’m going to be living in an apartment right down the street from Piazza del Campo, home of the historic Palio horse races.  It just doesn’t feel real.  But every time I look at my Italian Visa stamped in my passport, I remind myself that I really am taking this journey.

Many people were surprised when I said I wanted to study abroad spring of my Sophomore year.  A lot of students wait until their Junior year to go abroad, but I felt like this semester was the right time for me.  Even though I know this is the right time for me to go abroad, I am still afraid.  It is scary to go to a foreign country on your own without any friends or family.  But I know that if I let fear get the best of me, I will miss out on the adventure of a lifetime.  Some of the best things in life require a leap of faith and studying abroad is one of them.

There are many preconceived notions about studying abroad.  It’s not a vacation, it’s a learning experience.  When studying abroad you learn about culture, history, language, and even about yourself.  This is an invaluable experience that too few students have.  This experience is also shared by friends and family who, like study abroad students, have expectations and fears.

I have been studying Italian since high school and my ultimate goal is to be fluent in the language.  I know that I am incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to study abroad in Italy, and I know that I will have an amazing time.  But please don’t think that studying abroad just means sight seeing and having fun 24/7.  Studying abroad takes maturity and discipline.  I know I will work very hard this semester.  I will have a lot of fun, but I will work hard.   Studying in Siena, is a huge push out of my comfort zone.  Pushing myself out of my comfort zone will allow me to learn more than I could ever have imagined.  Again, taking a leap of faith can have a huge impact.

I know that my friends and family want what is best for me and just want me to be safe while traveling, but it can be frustrating and even upsetting every time someone brings up terrorism or death. After the attacks on Paris, several people said “Oh, you are still going to Italy?”  I am well aware that traveling can be dangerous, but there is danger everywhere.  I go to college in Washington, D.C. which is not always the safest of places.  Unfortunately, we need to be careful no matter where we go in this world.  However, I don’t believe that fear is a reason to back out of studying abroad.

So even though I am not overly fearful of these things, here is what I actually am concerned about:

  • My limited knowledge of Italian: Even though I have been studying Italian since high school, I’m not very good at it.  But this is a great reason why studying abroad will be good for me!  It will force me to learn more than I did in five and a half years of Italian classes.
  • Flying on my own: I do not like flying very much.  Flying to a foreign country on my own is even more stressful.  But I have been told that as long as I follow the signs, I will be just fine.
  • Homesickness: I am bound to feel homesick during my time abroad.  I am lucky that my parents and sister are visiting me in February, but being on the other side of the world will be hard at times.  However, I know that I have a great support system and I will be ok.
  • Where will I get my morning coffee: I’m seriously addicted.  I need to know where my caffeine will come from.  I hear the coffee in Italy is great though!

Anyway, I hope to return from Italy a more knowledgeable, worldly, and well-rounded person.  I know there will be highs and lows, but this semester will be incredible, and I will come back a changed person.  In order to do this, I need to leave my comfort zone, face my fears, and go to Italy.  I can’t wait to share my experiences with you once I arrive! Ciao!

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Kristina Azevedo

<p>I&#39;m a sophomore from George Washington University majoring in Communications and minoring in Italian and Journalism. &nbsp;I love traveling, art, and food. &nbsp;I am so excited to share my experiences with you, especially my quest for the best bread in Italy.</p>

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