I'm Going Abroad And I'm Terrified

I'm Going Abroad And I'm Terrified

I just have a lot of questions

Okay terrified might be a bit of an overstatement.

Anyway, I'm going to Florence for a whole semester in January. I am over the moon with excitement about being in a new place but there are lots of uncertainty out there and I'm definitely someone who enjoys knowing exactly what is going to happen. I am scared that getting there on my own, without a travel buddy, will not work out the way I want.

Sure, I have traveled my whole life, but there is something about doing it completely solo that freaks me out just a little. I'm also scared that I won't make any friends, which again is totally irrational because I know that I totally will. I just have so many questions:

Will this experience be as fantastic as everyone says that it is? (answer: of course it will be).

How in the world am I going to be able to communicate when I get there not knowing any useful Italian?

Who the heck and I going to live with?

And more importantly, will we get along?

What is my apartment going to look like?

If I can't even navigate directions in America, how in the world am I going to do it in a foreign language?


What will everything be like when I get back home in May?

My fear is that my friends and I will have drifted and that it'll be hard to get back into the swing of things. Easy fix: stay in the loop with facetime and don't let you and your friends drift! What if I end up loving it so much over in Italy that I hate the idea of coming back to America? What will it be like to come home and not have fresh pasta and a plethora of gelato at my fingertips anymore?

I know that this experience is one that I will never forget and I should just let go of all of the anxiety that I'm having over things I can't control and the fears that are completely irrational (which is most of them). It's just hard to do when everything is new. I just need to move past it because come January, the gif below will be me #af

Cover Image Credit: personal photo

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.

After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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One Last Time

Studying abroad for one whole year.


Going to a school such as New York University has given me a lot of opportunities to study abroad. Therefore, last semester, I studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic and it was one experience that I could not forget. However, most students choose to study overseas once because it lasts around four months and can be a lot of time away from home and at the home campus. I decided to do a program where I go abroad one more time, the upcoming semester to Shanghai, China and it is a lot of commitment that is both exciting and scary.

One of the scary parts of studying abroad is being abroad for one whole year. Undergraduate consists of only four years, and I have spent a quarter of it in different countries. It definitely is a lot of time away from the states and my home, but it has both its upsides and downsides. Leaving my closest friends and my comfort zone is something that many people cannot just do in mere seconds. It took me a lot of time to realize how long I am going to be away from my home campus in New York City and how much I will miss out.

However, looking at the bright side, it is another chance to explore a different country and meet many new people that can potentially become a crucial part of your life. The life-long friendships you make abroad in a different country with other people in similar shoes can be one hell of an experience. Also, being able to go to countries and study there is a very rare experience, and I believe that if your school offers you the chance, take all the opportunities you can get. Studying abroad for more than once also gives you growth as an individual due to its life-changing experiences. I meet many college students that haven't even studied abroad once, not saying that it is bad, but looking into it and putting yourself out of your comfort may benefit you more than you think.

I know with studying abroad for a year can be a huge dent to your family relations and friendships. My parents were not the most excited about going abroad again because there does exist a huge distance that can be hard and difficult on the relationships around you. But putting that aside, you make new relationships when you are abroad, and the possibilities are endless.

At first, I did not enjoy being put out of my comfort zone, however, I realized that putting myself out there in the world benefits me into growing into a stronger and more independent person. The only advice I can give to those thinking of studying abroad and those students who are afraid to go for a long period of time is that don't limit yourself and take great advantage of all the opportunities that are offered to you.

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