A year ago today, I began the greatest journey of my life to date. January 25, 2012, I remember waking up to my mom packing some last-minute clothes and other items into my bag. It was like waking up on Christmas morning as a kid, excited to run downstairs to open presents. The only difference was instead of running to the Christmas tree, I was eagerly awaiting the ride to Philadelphia International Airport.
I did not actually land on Italian soil until Jan. 26, but I could already feel my life changing on the morning of the 25th. The following months would be filled with some of the greatest moments of my life. I remember the first day like it was yesterday – meeting my roommates for the first time and taking my first tour of the Trastevere neighborhood. I remember taking a 9 hour nap because I couldn’t sleep on the flight from home because I was too excited. I remember going to dinner the street from my apartment because it was the only place open at that time of night.
I had always dreamed of living in Europe. I knew before I even enrolled in La Salle, that when I went to college I was going to study abroad. It was a goal that I wouldn’t let go unfulfilled. And it was the best decision I ever made.
Some of my weekend trips were like scenes right out of my dreams. I was able to walk the streets of Pompeii, stand on a mountain in Spain overlooking the town below (one of the most beautiful scenes I had all trip), I snowboarded down the Swiss Alps, despite not being a ski or snowboard enthusiast. Some of my greatest memories didn’t even have to do with extravagant events like snowboarding. Some of them were as simple as sitting by the sea in Barcelona for over an hour enjoying the sun and listening to live music.
No part of the trip would have been as great as they were if it wasn’t for the people I was able to experience it with. I made friends with some of the best people I have ever met. We became a family – sharing meals, celebrating holidays, giving/taking advice, willing to do anything for one another. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends than what I have now from my trip.
In light of this one year anniversary, I have decided to update the blog more recently, filling it with memories, future plans, and preparations for my next trip to Europe. My European journey continues on May 8, 2013, as I depart PHL for Berlin, Vienna, and Prague.
I have learned a lot over the years, but nothing like what I learned while abroad. Take advantage of the opportunities you have. Don’t regret the decisions you make. Take chances in life, especially when an opportunity presents itself, because it may not again. Talk to people, make friends, build relationships, and drink all the wine you can with them. Most of all, enjoy life and the ones you experience it with. And remember, sometimes life doesn’t go as you planned, and sometimes, it’s better.