Friday, December 26, 2014

Italy Bound!

Don't leave important things until the last minute. 

Don't leave important things until the last minute.

I will say it one more time, fellow college students: 


I am by no means a procrastinator. I am the Do-The-Project-On-The-Day-It-Was-Assigned kind of person. But this time around, I really dropped the ball. My excuse? A little thing called FINALS WEEK. Tearing out your hair, nursing a large Speedway coffee until 3:30 AM, and mindlessly flipping through flashcards you made with leftover paper scraps and highlighters that are running out of ink. And, of course, hijacking all of your friends' MyMarietta passcodes because you are out of prints and somehow they miraculously have over 200 left.

All of this led to me, crouching by my home printer, late at night the day after finals, watching the ink slide across the page in the printer--a hypnotic, ink-soaked pendulum printing my student ID, flight confirmation, social security number, and bank account information in swift strokes, inch by inch. 

I had to mail my information to the Italian Consulate to obtain my Student Visa, and time was running out. And, from what I heard, Italy was quite strict with who they let into their borders.

Don't leave important things until the last minute. 

Luckily, I received the Consulate's response today in a USPS envelope. My passport, with a Visa--my long-awaited confirmation that I am for sure going to Italy!

Lots of work for a sticker, when you think about it. 

Preparazione Per il Viaggio (Preparing for the Journey)

Yes, I admit it. I had to use Google Translate to title this. Am I ashamed? No...I am merely resourceful. 

Of course, learning to speak Italian is one of my goals while abroad, among other goals. Many, many others. Like learning to say "senza glutine" ("no gluten") to a waiter. Learning to use the EU train systems. Learning to take a leap of faith and go somewhere crazy for the weekend. Learning to cook gluten free eggplant parmesan. Learning to like eggplant. And parmesan. 

I hope for so much while I'm gone, but all my hopes can be summarized in the following: I hope to grow. I find that I have become much too accustomed to the perfectionism with which I operate here in the States. I strive on a daily basis to fulfill others' desires, and have become a self-identified "people pleaser." Don't get me wrong--I still want to put others first, and I still want to do my very best in all my endeavors. But I need to add an element of newness to the mix in order to catalyze growth. I need adventure and challenges.

Of course, safety first. Going abroad can be dangerous. Accidents can happen. And I have to be careful because, according to the international insurance plan offered by my program, they will only cover "the financial burdens associated with the loss of one limb or finger from accidental severance, amputation, or disease." So, let's keep the limbs. Because I can't afford it if I lose more than one.

Ah, the Lewis Model. Categorizing global regions according to dominant traits and placing them on a triangular spectrum as Linear-Active, Multi-Active, and Reactive. The US and Italy are on the same spectrum, but on opposite ends, the US being predominantly Linear-Active and Italy being Multi-Active. I myself am very Linear-Active, and find the US's detail-orientation and preoccupation with schedules and timelines to be, in an odd way, relaxing. I can relax knowing there is structure. The Italians? Not so much. But, all the more reason for me to go there as a personal challenge. 

My largest fear is differences in communicative methods. They are more blunt than are Americans, and I don't do well with confrontation. I prefer people to say, "That outfit is gorgeous, but I prefer the red dress" instead of "Why are you wearing a potato sack?" I would rather hear, "These homemade cookies are almost as delicious as your cheesecake" than "You should have stopped at the cheesecake." Or, "I really prefer shorter blog posts" instead of "When will you stop writing?" 

Communication fears aside, I'm looking forward to this. In so many ways, this trip is coming at a bad time. I'm overrun by commitments at school, stressed beyond belief, and need organization and order to get through the chaos I've immersed myself in. Paradoxically, this trip is coming at the perfect time--not in spite of all this, but because of it.

My blog posts will attempt to connect my personal experiences with the course material you are working with. I will share honestly and give you the scoop, and if you ask for more, I'll answer:) Because, frankly, I'm terrified. And I want to share. I will also keep another blog, separate from the McDonough Program, documenting my experiences (sans Global Leadership connections), and you are welcome to follow that one, as well.