This will all make more sense if I tell you that I had been daydreaming for 30 minutes about studying abroad, so I had absolutely no clue what the lecture was about, nor would I ever find out. I was there physically, but my mind was over 4,000 miles away in Italy.
I was the first one out of the classroom, power walking my way across the campus in a desperate attempt to reach the Study Abroad Office as soon as possible. Ten minutes later, I was at the top of the stairs catching my breath and fixing my hair: preparing myself to open the door and hoping I didn’t look like a complete nut case.
That's where it all started. That was the moment when I consciously chose to complicate the heck out of my academic life, in order to follow a dream I had pushed out of my mind time and time again with sad excuses. It was time to do what I wanted, not what my academic advisor suggested was the sensible and responsible thing for a sophomore business major.
No! I was not going to wait one more semester. No! I was not going to settle for Spain or England. I wanted Italy and I was going to make sure my application was so good that there was no way they could reject it. Everything else would fall into place I told myself. All I needed was that acceptance letter from the program and I would figure out the rest.
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that making a decision is the hardest part for me. Yes, I’m one of those people who look at every alternative and imagine every possible outcome and then analyze it all again. I can torture myself for days or even months about the pros and cons. Yet, once I choose, once I'm resolute in my decision, nothing can deter me from my goal. If you stand in my way I will run you over. Let that serve as a warning.
It’s funny how every choice we make has ramifications that we never truly grasp, until we step back years later to look at the bigger picture. The decision I made in that lecture hall to study abroad led me later to transfer schools, change my major, and tread a completely different path than I would have walked had I chosen the safe route.
That decision I made in 2009 is the reason I get to begin 2013 head over heels in love with the Italian man of my dreams. That is also the reason I have now diagnosed myself with what I call Milanostalgia: a deep-seated sentimentality for the city I called home for a year. Milan is a place where I forged friendships that transcend language or culture and that I owe much gratitude for helping me flourish and grow.
Deborah Rodriguez was born in Costa Rica but grew up in North Carolina. Now, she is trying to make it on her own in Miami. She is crazy in love with everything Italy: the people, the culture, the language, the food - you name it. Her dream is to move back to Milan and teach English. Her inclusion in the Road Babe Dispatches column reflects only the view of Lyn's "editorial staff."