Michael Phelps won the Olympic gold medal in the 200m Butterfly with a world record of 1:52.03. Imagine him swim that race 1,0797 times—despite how much of a Herculean task that may seem—and that’s how long until I leave for Italy. Much like Phelps with his mountainous obstacle of laps I have been struggling back and forth with automated menu options, redundant hold music, and various customer service representatives in a battle to retain my student loan. Along with the many other urgent thoughts floating around in my pre-departure head, I have to wonder if I might leave the country dead broke, forced to live off of an Italian version of Top Ramen—spaghetti molto aldente? Seeing as the Euro is equivalent to about 1 1/2 Dollars, I find myself already in a cash deficit and wondering if I should pack even the smallest of necessities in order to save in the long run. As the summer days wind down I’m trying to experience as much of my California surf and sun as possible. A part of me is still in disbelief that I’m going to be gone for a whole year in what is one of the most amazing countries I have ever traveled to.I believe it was my first trip to Italy in my Junior year where my passion for photography evolved. I remember being inspired by the rustic architecture and scenery to the point where even the most mundane and rundown streets looked like artistic masterpieces in my eyes. Reflecting back on those moments makes me excited to return and capture the country’s beauty through my own lens.
In the wake of my anticipation I find myself repeating the most unusual Italian phrases: Devo usare il bagno, dove’ il bagno, mi piace gli spaghetti ma non con la carne! However silly these may sound in my own head these little translations keep my confidence in check, and reassure me that I will be able to get by in Italy, or at least know where the nearest bathroom is.
One of the things that I look forward to the most, and also keeps me on my toes the most, is my impending journey to find an apartment in Bologna. My program doesn’t provide housing so it seems that at the beginning of each semester a frenzy of students scour the city with only ten days to find a place that will be their home for the next ten months. Although previous students have said it is one of the most stressful times of the program, I find myself excited to interact with potential Italian roommates. I feel lucky that I’ll be able to live with native Italians and further immerse myself in their culture, which I hope to soon be a part of.
I can’t wait for the the life ahead of me in Italy. I can just imagine myself typing away under the umbrella of one of the many small cafes lined up in the boisterous Piazza Maggiore, sharing my most embarrassing moments, chance encounters with new people, the inevitable pangs of home sickness, and most importantly my daily discovery in what it means to be a true Bolognese.