Lava came spewing down the side of Mount Etna at a pace that indicated imminent doom. In my mind this was the beginning of the end and the outcome would be just as dismal as Pompeii thousands of years ago.
When I decided to Study Abroad in Taormina, Sicily I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know anyone on my trip, didn’t know much about the location, and especially not a lot about the active volcano in the middle of the island. The things I was the most nervous or didn’t know about ended up being the highlights of my program. I was able to go into Taormina with a fresh perspective and explore the city with my new friends. Everything was going really well until close to the end of my program the volcano, Mount Etna began to erupt. In a panic (and mostly curiosity) my friend and I took to the streets in our pajamas, sprinting in order to find the perfect spot to observe what was surely going cause our demise. While dashing down the way we ran into our friend Rachelle, who worked at a local restaurant. We were out of breath and trying to speak to her in broken Italian in order to convey what we thought was going to be the end. She seemed un-phased by our news so we attributed it to our poor Italian. We trekked on and finally found a vantage point to see that there was only a tiny spot of red on the vast mountain. We also found out Mount Etna erupts quite frequently. Rachelle, our friend at the restaurant understood our Italian but didn’t understand why we were making a big deal about something that occurs on a monthly basis. Ultimately, to the locals we looked like silly tourists in our oversized t shirts and our Nike shorts running bare foot through a beautiful Italian city. I will always remember giggling about how genuinely nervous we were while sitting inside of an ancient roman theater watching the speck of red flare up miles away.
I made friends on this trip that I know I will be able to reminisce with years down the road. My Study Abroad experience was filled with so many adventures and stories that I will be able to recount and share for the rest of my life.
— Cailyn Gray
AU Liberal Arts –Summer Program in Taormina, Italy, Summer 2014
— Photos taken by Madeline Burkhardt