The Beginning:

You can’t start a book in chapter three, and it’s the same with this blog; to really start you have to start at the beginning.

So a bit of background to get us all acquainted:

U of T is a great school, we all know it and that’s why we chose it. But it can also be a very overwhelming place, because with a million choices it’s hard to hear about everything that is going on and it’s even harder to choose what it is you want to do. We’ve all know it.

Now, in my first year, I took a renaissance studies course in which the professor used a lot of his own travel pictures to illustrate the various cities, buildings and monuments he taught about in class. Every other sentence in his lectures started with “and if you go to siena this summer and take my course there you’ll of course see this…and this…”

Hmmm a course in siena for the summer…

I know, I thought exactly the same thing you are now thinking… ‘so..where exactly is siena?’

This is what I came to find out: it was to be a five week course in italy, taught by a ]       U of T professor for a transferable1.0 university credits.

That was the official pitch. study in tuscany for 5 weeks during the summer, let italy be your textbook, and learn in a way you’ve never learnt before.

The truth is it was the best thing I ever did.

I know, I know. I just did it. I pulled the ‘that was the BEST thing I ever did oh my gosh’ line. It’s true, everyone always claims they know/did/saw/experienced the absolute best thing ever.
But let me tell you this: when you’re in venice, rushing off a gondola with your friends because the bells in san marco just rang three and you have to go meet up with your class for your tour of the cathedral, and that’s just a normal thursday afternoon, then yeah, it’s pretty fun.

And after a Summer Abroad you end up with a thousand stories like that.

I’d tell you all of them, but the truth is, the most important part you have to hear about is the start. Because the only part that is stopping you from doing it yourself is actually starting.

Let’s re-iterate that for emphasis: the only part that is stopping you is actually starting.

Everyone will tell you about the adventures and the stories and all of the funny jokes, but you need someone who will tell you what it’s like when you’re at the airport and you have to get on a plane all by yourself with strangers to go far away for weeks without even being sure you’ll have a good time.

So here we go, July 2009, at the airport:

Me- in tears, lining up for the check-in counter repeating over and over in my head ‘this is the worst idea…’
My brother- offering wise words of encouragement: “stop crying. everyone will think you’re a loser and you’re not going to make any friends.”
My mom- “you’re going to have a great time, this is a great thing you are doing”
My dad- “those bags are overweight. You’re going to have to take something out”

Yes, they were overweight. But they weren’t the only ones. Directly infront of me was a girl who was rifling through her suitcase trying to make it lighter while her mom watched on. (and she began chatting with another mom, “25 skirts! 25 skirts! She’s going there to study…what does she need 25 skirts for?”).

And maybe you’d think that once in italy the nerves would have subsided and it would all be done. No way. It was even worse, all I kept thinking was what am I doing here?    I should be home!!!!

So yes, you know it will be fun, but you also know you haven’t done anything like this before and you know it scares you. Because it is scary. Of course it is. But you have   NO idea all the magic that is waiting on the other side.

I went to italy to do a Summer Abroad and had an incredible time; so incredible that I went back to U of T wanting more. I took another leap and signed up to go abroad
for a semester in England and WHAT an experience that was!! and now, here I am abroad again and already having a BLAST!

So this is it. You are young, the world is literally at your fingertips, and you can do it. U of T has a whole centre devoted to helping you do it. Stop stopping yourself. GO. Because it will be the best thing you ever did.

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