When I applied to the Tutor English to a Family in Italy program through GeoVisions, I don’t think I was in the right state of mind. I had had a rough year, and all I could think about was escaping my minuscule college town and doing something different. When one of my friends saw me staring at the application, she smiled at me and said, “do it!” And so, with an ounce of courage, I did.
See, I’ve spent my entire life dealing with anxiety. The thought of traveling to a foreign country where you don’t know anyone is frightening to most people, and these fears are amplified for those of us who struggle with anxiousness. I don’t think that under regular circumstances I would have ever considered this program. But suddenly I found myself buying plane tickets and exchanging emails with my host family. And when I realized what I had done, I broke down. But my friends and family reassured me and told me this was the chance of a lifetime. So I dealt with my anxiousness as best that I could and tried to stay calm until it was time to leave.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry on the plane. The flight was long, I did not sleep, and when I arrived in Italy I was scared and exhausted. But my host family welcomed me, and as they kissed my cheeks and hugged me, my anxiety began to diminish.
Now that my time here is almost finished, I would give anything to go back and erase my anxiousness. Since coming to Italy, I’ve climbed to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, with the encouragement of another wonderful program participant. I met a girl in Florence who lives just one state over from me, who recommended the best pear ravioli I have ever tasted. I’ve ordered lunch in broken Italian so many times that the waitress knows my name, and loves to sit and talk to me when she is not busy. My host family and I have shared so many wonderful jokes and conversations. I have mastered the buses and trains, and every small victory has added to my courage and peace.
During the last weeks of my stay here, I’ve had the pleasure of congratulating my student after he completed interviews in English. I was even more thrilled to learn that he got a second interview with one of the most important international companies in his field. I have helped someone achieve their dreams, and I have had the pleasure of finding myself in the process. I am forever thankful for my temporary lapse in judgement. I can’t believe I was ever worried.
I think that fear is one of the reasons people reconsider doing programs like this. There were a thousand moments where I thought I could not do it, and for each of those moments I have been given a thousand reasons to be happy I did.
All you need is the courage to get on the plane. Being here will give you everything else.
My host family is now helping me plan a solo trip around Europe before I go home, which is also something I never imagined I would do. Of course I am anxious, but I know that I can do it, because GeoVisions didn’t just give me a program; they gave me a new home, new friends, and a new perspective on life that has changed me for the better.