The plane that will take me away to Florence, Italy for four months is 50 feet from me right now. This is such a surreal feeling. At this point it’s like my body is keeping a secret from my brain. My stomach is full of butterflies while in my head I’m just acting like I’ll be on a brief vacation.

Ever since I came to the University of Minnesota it has been my plan to travel, and to do it often. Though I’ve been on various trips ranging from a few days to a month, Italy will be the biggest yet and I could not be more excited about the adventure I’m about to have. Yes, I am studying abroad which includes school, but my classes are far from my regular load of developmentally focused psychology classes. Instead I’ll be engaging some of my other passions such as Photography: Exploring Society Through the Camera Lens, Art History: Italian Renaissance Art, and Italian 1003. Besides these courses, I see studying abroad as much more than attending university in a different country, but also studying the large and often times invisible culture that is part of every person populating our world.

I am a strong believer that you will get back the amount of energy you put into something and I plan to carry that philosophy into my travels over these next few months. Who knows what I’ll end up gaining along the way, but I’ll share both my trials and tribulations here in hopes that others can learn from my experience, even if in order to gain knowledge I had to experience something embarrassing. But embarrassment is not something uncommon to me, especially while traveling. Last May when I studied leadership and social change in Ireland, I arrived at customs with my passport in a very shaky hand. The attendant who graciously picked up my passport after I dropped it on her podium flashed me a smile and asked “are you here for the craic?”. Now I, being a 20 year old who had watched a lot of daytime television during sick days immediately assumed she was asking me if I had come to Ireland to smoke crack. I don’t even know if I responded but my face must have strained into a confused, red, mess because she quickly said “craic means fun!”. I was somewhat relived but the moment left me anxious. I’m pretty sure I dropped my 50 pound suitcase onto my foot moments later actually.

So, you’re in luck. A girl who has had her fair share of embarrassing moments and is not afraid to talk about times when I may have been wrong is going abroad! And you’re going to hear about it! Let’s have some craic!