Monday, June 27, 2011

Like a kid on Christmas morning

I'm tucked in my bed (minus the footie pj's) intently listening for any rustling coming from the living room or any space in the vicinity of the tree.  I can't sleep because the suspense of the coveted items I've been lusting at for months, circled from the Toys R' Us catalog and promptly given to my parents for shopping reference, is too much to bear.  The moment where I can finally bolt down the stairs, appropriately at 5:30 AM (the butt-crack of dawn- I know my parents loved this one), and tear open the colorful packaging to reveal such surprises that will entertain me for weeks to come and slowly become tossed to the side as another Christmas eve nears.

This is how I feel about Italy.

Two things:  I know time is going to f-l-y, literally.  I consistently receive the same reaction, "WOW, five weeks!"  Not a lot of time people.  I absolutely refuse to look at this experience as a dwindling passage of time but rather an opportunity to cram as much as possible into these weeks.  I will get to see and do everything on my list; however, I also know I can only be so prepared and that these inevitable surprises will happen (good or bad) despite my efforts to plan out every detail.

Some thoughts:

1.  If you think you can't...  YOU CAN!
I never imagined being able to afford to study abroad.  The good news is:  there's always a way and a program that will work for you.  Your school wants students to have these opportunities and participate in their programs and are willing to aid you in finances.  Loans, scholarships, and grants are all possible, but you really have to do your research to know what's available and what the best options are for you.  I don't think anyone would regret money spent on travel and the time spent living in an amazing country.

2.  Be persistently ANNOYING!
Your counselor, financial advisers, and the study abroad office are all there for a reason, so use them!  Get in contact with everyone associated with your program or major to understand how your credits will transfer and how your experience will fit into your schedule.  Personally, I met with my journalism adviser three times, my international studies adviser twice, and I cannot even begin to evaluate how many times I've been in the abroad office or have called IU financial services.  Ask questions and demand answers because you deserve them in regards to your trip and making sure every detail is taken care of.

3.  A deadline is a deadline is a deadline is a deadline is a DEADLINE!
Think college apps season during the fall of your senior year of high school.  Deadlines are real, and you REALLY won't be studying abroad unless you observe them.  Do you want to know the truth?  The entire procedure is a paperwork nightmare, so I suggest you write down and set reminders for these deadlines and make copies of all your information.  (The fax machine and your e-mail inbox will be your best friends)  If you find yourself in a situation in which you are unable to meet a deadline, make a phone call ASAP because there is a good chance you can be granted an extension.

Buon viaggio!  Next post coming from Roma!

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