In the grandeur of dreams and expectations, I am fearless.
There are a thousand and one possibilities for my journey to Italy. I wander among them in my mind; dreams of twilight markets full of trinkets, of anecdotes told by my aging nonna (grandmother), of olive fritte (fried olives) and fresh mozzarella, of European escapades with new friends, of Totti weaving the soccer ball through the field, of intimidating professors who smell like espresso…
I will live in Bologna for six months and at the end, I will not want to leave.
But the adventure has not yet begun. Now, with mere days left in the States, I am afraid.
I’ve been to Italy before, but the prospect of abandoning my home and family to tackle a city and university I’ve never known… it’s daunting.
It is that tingling fear that grips you in anticipation. It makes me regret things I’ve procrastinated on: reserving hotels, printing maps, booking shuttles, writing a blog. It makes me pack and repack luggage, throwing in last-minute things like a stuffed monkey and a laundry bag.
This selfsame packing is a puzzle. I am a minimalist. I am taking only one checked bag, a carry-on, and a backpack. Unfortunately, one bag still means 50 pounds regardless of the overgenerous size. I don’t regret my one-bag-rule though; wheeling even that one overly-large suitcase down the cobblestone streets of Italy is—frankly—not so simple.
How to prepare for adventure:
- Remember procedural agendas. Tickets. Passport. Visa. Medical forms.
- Minimize packing. Things still exist on the other side of the world. Like jackets and shampoo and books. I promise.
- Bring mementos. These are little pieces of home that one can still take; they hold stories and conversation-starters and momentary smiles to start a day. Mine is the stuffed monkey.
- Make a Skype account. It’s a good link back to the old world.
- Freak out a little. It builds character. (I am still on this step)
- Capture every second. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. This is a chance to redefine oneself from the perspective of a new culture.
While I am scared, this is the opportunity I dream of:
I’m going to strive to become fluent, to find an apartment all by myself, to understand my professors, to take oral exams; I’m going to discover my father’s childhood and my nonna’s poems; I’m going to have friends and memories for a lifetime.
That struggle is the adventure.