As I sat at my desk studying for final exams, I couldn’t help but look forward to summer. No class, free time, hanging with friends. Except the summer before senior year isn’t like that. I’m taking a summer class, working a job, and most of my friends are staying at their colleges for class and job opportunities. I miss those carefree days in high school were we were blinded with happiness and boredom.

But this summer will be different from the last. I am studying abroad in May in Cortona, Italy on the Viticulture and Enology trip. I had the pleasure of being taught by Dr. Frank in my FYOS where he talked about the Cortona trip and I thought “Yep, I am gonna do that.” Freshman year flew by and I was too nervous to take the dive across the pond. Sophomore year, my brother was getting married so I kinda had to be there. This was the time to do it. When I asked my parents and told them it was about winemaking, they laughed but also agreed that it would be great experience for my career path.

Over Spring Break, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Scotland. Our class in food insecurity explored food poverty issues in Dumfries as well as Athens. There were 10 students and 2 professors, giving me a huge comfort since this was my first time out of the states. I loved every second, even the haggis.

But Italy was different. I knew no one going on the trip. Italians speak Italian. A whole new currency. The only kind of familiar thing was knowing I already liked pizza. It was daunting realizing I would be gone for 3 and a half weeks. The longest I had been away from home minus college was a week. How do you even pack for a month long trip? I had so many questions, so much worry. But I knew this would be good for me. I am not a risk taker. I like routine, I like comfort. Taking a risk for me is trying chicken tacos when I normally get shrimp. But after a hard junior year, I realized it was good for me to get out of my comfort zone. I want to see the world and find secret places. I may not ever want to go sky diving, but this is a step in the right direction.