Hi, everyone! My name is Ellen Jordan and I am a rising junior at UT studying Nutritional Science. I have been in Ortigia, Sicily for nearly a week and I can confidently say that it has blown away any expectations I had made beforehand. Two years ago, if you would have asked me how I felt about spending 6 weeks studying abroad in a place that veered from my exact expectations, I would have been bothered to say the least. Now, however, I am welcoming the experience with my arms open wide.
As someone who tends to plan out every aspect of her life in ridiculous detail, study abroad was initially no different. The moment I got my acceptance (who am I kidding, before that email even came), I began researching everything I possibly could: what the area is like, the food, information about the program, the food, how the residents act, the food, possible weekend excursions, and did I mention the food? I wanted to know every single detail so I could be ready for this exciting adventure.
Have I done this exact thing before every new experience I have been a part of? You bet. Before coming to college, I thought I could plan out exactly how the next several years of my life would look like. Spoiler alert: you can’t! I always planned on going to college in a new city, far away from my hometown of Austin, but when I ended up at the University of Texas at Austin, I realized I could find exactly what I needed in a college just 10 minutes from home.
My actual experiences always end up being so different from anything I have predicted, guessed, or dreamed up. I used to fear unpredictability, but I have recently learned how freeing it is to let go of expectations and focus on the present. By consciously digging into the study abroad experience, the more happiness, memories, and friendships I will obtain.
While there is nothing wrong with making plans or having dreams (believe me, I’m all for them!), I have found that leaving room for the unexpected and unknown is the best way to enjoy new experiences. By accepting my reality, entertaining an open-mind, proving resilient by rolling with the punches, and being utterly thankful for these incredible opportunities, I have learned to let go of any expectations I may have had and plugged myself into the present.
Since I touched down in Sicily, I have not once obsessed over the little details, tried to plan out what the next several weeks look like, or focused on how things are not exactly like I pictured. Because of this, I have already made great friendships, acquired countless memories, and been in constant awe of the wonders of Ortigia, Italy. Little did I know that this small coastal town would have such a powerful effect on me. We are not even a full week in, but I know that this experience is going to be life changing.
The bottom line: while you may think that you know what your life is supposed to look like, your reality is the life you are actually living, so make the most of it by being present in every moment. I know that my time studying abroad is going to fly by, so I plan to soak up every moment in order to get the most of this incredible experience.
If you would like to see what I am up to while in Italy, feel free to follow my account @ellen.eats on Instagram or check out my blog elleneats.com. I will also have another post appear here next month!
This post was contributed by Ellen Jordan, a 2019 Global Ambassador participating in the Nutrition in Italy faculty led program.
Don’t get left behind. Find your study abroad adventure>>