BIG announcement, folks! In less than a month, I will be on a plane to Florence, Italy! I will be splitting my semester between Florence and London, on a study abroad program through ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest).
Why London and Florence? Well besides the fact that this program combines two beautiful, historic cities into one semester long experience, these places are basically the epicenter of my two loves: literature and art history. London is steeped in centuries of literary tradition, from Charles Dickens to Zadie Smith, and Florence is, of course, the birthplace of the Renaissance.
As a way to get this series started, I thought I'd share some of my goals for my time abroad:
Cultivate Curiosity: I strive to be one of those people that has an insatiable curiosity and who knows how to ask the right questions. Curiosity is a valuable asset because it gives you permission to be a newbie wherever you go. What's more, it's difficult to pass value judgements on things when you are curious about them. What better place to practice this habit of asking questions than when in a new place, experiencing a new culture, and meeting new people?
Make new friends: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but no less important. I'll be living, traveling, and going to class with people from different midwestern colleges, as well as living with a host family in Florence, who I'm hoping I can form a close bond with.
Become more independent: Travel is something I want to do a lot of in my lifetime, and this will be the least structured of my travels so far. While I'll have a support system of professors, administrators, and my host family, I'll still be responsible for travel between Florence and London, as well as planning any weekend or day trips I want to do on my own. Right now, the idea of even getting from the airport our meeting place in Florence is daunting, so hopefully this feeling of independence comes quickly!
Immerse myself in history and culture: This is a big one. One of my favorite things about European cities is that their history is constantly on display, from architecture to urban planning to museums. When I went to Paris with a class last semester, I felt like I only scratched the surface of Parisian history and culture, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to dive deep in each city, and compare my experiences.
Practice reflection: My mother is always telling me to write things down before I forget them, and this experience is something I know I want to remember. While abroad, I plan to cultivate a habit of capturing moments, wether in a travel journal, this blog, or letters to friends and family. I worry that I'll spend too much time capturing and not enough time experiencing, but my goal is strike a balance between the two. During times of immense upheaval and change, reflection is one of the few things that keeps me sane.
Needless to say, I will be keeping you updated on all of the preparation and my experiences abroad right here on The Blank Page. Just click on "Travel" in the categories section to see all the updates. I'll be attempting to post once or twice a week, though (fair warning) that may be sporadic at first, what with finals coming up. I hope you'll stick around for the ride!
Days until departure: 25
Excitement to Anxiety Ratio: 85:15