A Learning Experience

Written by jessicaboucher January 30, 2024

It has been nearly two weeks since I arrived in Italy, and it is still sometimes hard to believe that I am actually here. Every morning, I wake up to the breathtaking views of the mountains right outside my window and am still in awe of this place. With two weeks under my belt, here is what I can tell you: travel is as challenging as it is spectacular.

In particular, my experience in getting here was very trying. My flight was initially scheduled for Tuesday, January 16th, but unfortunately, New England, as well as Germany (the country I was meant to fly into) got hit with some pretty bad weather. Initially, my flight had three legs. I woke up that morning to a text alerting me that my third leg was canceled. Not too long after that, I was informed that my second leg was also canceled. That day, I spent seven straight hours on the phone with customer service, drove to the airport, and panicked A LOT, only to end up rescheduling my flight to the next day.

The following afternoon, midway through my two-hour commute to the airport, I got yet another notification that one of my flights was canceled. I was very lucky to have my parents with me to help me keep a level head and make sure that everything worked out, but I was extremely frustrated. Finally, after a lot of difficulty, I finally managed to get on a plane and make it to Europe. At this point, I was completely spent, and beginning to question if all of the trouble I had gone through would be worth it.

Based on the past two weeks, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the challenge is more than worth the outcome.

First of all, while this experience was extremely stressful, it taught me that I am more than capable of handling arduous situations like this one. Now I know that in the future I will feel more confident in myself when I am undergoing a hard time.

Second of all, in such a short period, I have already seen and experienced so many wonderful things. Paderno del Grappa is located in an astonishing location right at the base of the Italian Alps. While the community is small, there is more than enough to do as long as you are willing to explore. Additionally, only a short bus ride away are two beautiful cities, Bassano del Grappa and Asolo. Each of these places are beautiful in their own right and offer a variety of activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the wonderful culture that is unique to Northern Italy.

While certain things can be difficult or overwhelming, I think it is best to look at these experiences as a chance to grow. Since I speak very little Italian – pretty much none – there is a language barrier in some places. This has forced me to put myself in sometimes awkward situations, but ones that I usually come out of knowing more than I did before. It has also encouraged me to learn more about the language and culture of Italy.

Another difficulty I will likely face throughout the entirety of the semester is the task of planning for travel. While travel is objectively much easier here than in the States, it still comes with a slew of work. Just figuring out where you want to go, and then coordinating with other students can be confusing. But trying to figure out accommodations and transportation on top of that makes it even more complicated. However, by the end of the next three months, I am sure that I will have picked up many tips and tricks that make this process much easier.

While my first two weeks abroad may not have gone off without a hitch, I would not change a thing. Everything is what you make of it, so no matter the endeavor I may face, I am determined to ensure that this experience is positive. After all, these kinds of challenges always have a silver lining: they are a learning experience.