The past eight weeks have manifested into memories that I hope I never forget. I wish I could tell people that I’d always planned to come to Italy and that it had been on my radar before March 2021, but I would be lying. I was in a place in life where big, uncomfortable changes were happening and I felt that I had zero control of any of it. My friends were approaching their graduation day and the reality was setting in that I would be remaining at Auburn an extra year with the expectation that I would not get the chance to study abroad before I graduate. My routine was becoming mundane, and I was unsure of how to escape my redundant reality. Then, on March 31, I got an email about the Joseph S. Bruno Program and decided it was time to do something unexpected; I was going to find a way to go.
Fast-forward to week number eight of the program, and the decision to sign up for the JSB Program seems minute in comparison to the accomplishments that I have had since arriving in Italy.
Heights terrified me, but I climbed Mount Vesuvius.
Bridges petrified me, but I strolled across the seemingly interminable bridge to Civita di Bagnoregio.
Independence intimidated me because I had allowed myself to become alienated from it, but moving to another continent for eleven-and-a-half weeks with ten strangers demands it.
Despite the multitude of fears and reservations that I had a few months ago, I decided that it was time to stop staring at the mountains; it was time to climb them. I made the choice to live in the moment rather than allow my fear to consume me. Those fears are no longer staring back at me, rather, they are now dust under my ambitious feet. The weeks remaining may be dwindling, but my adoration for Italy has surged. Obstacles that once seemed to intimidate me have morphed into some of the best memories I have ever had because I took that step to climb.
Go climb your mountains,
– Emaline Stewart