Life Happens During Study Abroad

Two months down in Torino, Italy.  It’s crazy to think that I have lived and survived in a foreign country for two months (I’m considering that a major victory!!).  Every day is a new journey and this blog post is going to shed some light on the things they don’t tell you about study abroad.

  • You will get lost physically and emotionally.
  • You will feel alone yet embraced.
  • You will feel guilty for missing moments back at home and in the life of your family.
  • You will go through the process of becoming a new person and wonder if your friends and family will embrace the new you or wonder what happened.
  • You will simultaneously be at an all time high and low about most things in life.
  • You will have panics about your four year plan and then have a panic about how you can’t even read the computer screen in front of you because it’s all in Italian.
  • You will desperately want to have a “normal” cup of coffee and to speak English in a store.
  • You will fight with yourself to enjoy every moment abroad yet still think about home and the life that you love back there.
  • And most importantly you will continue to discover what this crazy world is about and how to get through it as a 21 year old broke college student who trying their best to live with a servant heart.

I would consider myself a very confident, independent, and strong individual and I have cried once a day over the last three days.

*Day one, I missed home.
*Day two, I let myself have anxiety about things that haven’t even happened in life yet.
*Day three, I was sitting in a coffee shop and was thinking about all the ways I could screw up my travel plans when my family comes to visit and that they would hate their time in Italy if I did.

Basically a lot of thinking and not a lot of living.

I think it is safe to say that most people see study abroad as a means of “escaping” life back home and going on this crazy adventure.  That is partly true, however life is still there.

I think one of the biggest blessings of studying abroad is the fact that life doesn’t go away, you are just given the gift of time to work through hard times.

I have been blessed with white space (thinking space, time to reflect) on this journey.  I am not stressed to the max with rehearsals, readings, projects, and work.  I do have school to work on, but I have freedom to invest time into my heart.  I have time to invest in myself.  I have time to be selfish in this season of life and being abroad has helped me work through deeper struggles that I have.

Throughout this time of change and adventure I am counting every blessing.  I am thankful for the trials.  I am working my way through life with such a conscious and intentional heart.  I have been refreshed and renewed and I cannot wait to live out the rest of my time here.

Talk about blessings people…I found a teacher to take voice lessons with here in Torino!! I am so excited about this!  I was nervous at first, but this one hour a week gives me such a warm feeling of comfort and home.  I get to sing and work on techniques to improve my craft.  I left my teacher’s apartment last week with such a big smile it hurt my face.  Music has been a way that I have connected to my heart as well as my family over the years, and it has been amazing to continue that here.

Olivia Pederson is an alumna of the USAC Torino, Italy program. You can read more about her time abroad on her blog, Discovering Torino