Arrivederci Americani!

Well, I’ve successfully postponed this entry until the last possible moment… In the meantime, I’ve been quite busy summer shopping, packing, and just generally panicking about the fact that I’m traveling to Rome in less than four days! While I love traveling, I have actually never left the country (besides Canada, but let’s face it, that doesn’t really count). Thus, needless to say, I am very, VERY nervous and not at all prepared to live over 5500 miles away for the next six weeks. Building up to this moment, I was boundlessly excited to leave on this extraordinary adventure, but now, it feels way too close and I don’t have nearly enough time to prepare. A good friend of mine, an experienced traveler herself, told me I will never feel ready, and that’s alright, but I’m going to be on a plane in a few short days whether I like it or not, and I’ll be on my way to Rome. There’s no way to stop it, and I definitely would not want to, but I’ll be glad when I am settled into my apartment with all my friends and the program is well on its way. Until then though, I’ll proceed to freak out.

Now that you know all about the inner workings of my mind, I should probably introduce myself. I’m Hunter, a sophomore (now it’s official woohoo!) studying math and biology–the ecology, evolution, and conservation track–at the University of Washington! My first year was a blast and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to study abroad this summer. In my free time, I enjoy running and practicing yoga, reading novels, drinking chai tea lattes, and taking time to appreciate the beauty of the world around us. I think peanut butter is the food of the gods, and you will never, ever catch me eating asparagus. I hope to teach high school math someday, or pursue a career in educational policy. At any other given moment during the week, you will probably find me working/studying in the Honors Office (where I spend way too much of my time!) or sunbathing in the Quad while pretending to do my homework.

The Honors Program has provided me unbelievable opportunities thus far, this study abroad program–Honors Rome to Venice: Mediterranean Crossings–being just one of many! Words do not describe how grateful or how excited I am to be embarking on this unforgettable adventure with some of my greatest friends to maybe the greatest place on the planet, Italia! In our program, we will engage in three different courses: Migrations, Markets, and Minorities in Italy; Islam and Italian Cities; and Tracing the History and Power of the Image: Ancient to Modern Roman Art. Through the combination of these courses, we will study minorities’ historical migration to Italy (as the central point of the Mediterranean Sea), their influence on modern-day Roman culture, and how these forces remain evident within Italian art and architecture.

As an international travel virgin, I hold very few expectations for the coming weeks. Approaching this experience with an open mind, I know I should expect the unexpected and be ready for any adventure that may come my way! I hope–and remain certain–that this will be the experience of a lifetime, with unforgettable memories and absolutely incredible friends. I eagerly anticipate all elements of my first cross-continental travel adventure (well maybe not the fifteen hour flight and certain jet lag…). Although I remain extremely nervous for the side-effects of international travel, possibilities of pickpocketing, etc., I am ready to soak in every moment of my trip, to experience a culture so unlike the comforting simplicity of life in Seattle, and to personally witness sights that previously existed only within my dreams–or on Google Images of course. As my departure inches ever nearer and I fruitlessly attempt to delay the inevitable, preparing seems rather pointless–I’ll never feel fully ready to get on that plane. But I’ve got my ticket, a suitcase, and directions to Rome. And that’s all I need! Freshman year may have ended, but the true adventure is just beginning. See you in another life Seattle! Arrivederci Americani!