Pre-Study Abroad: Excited, Worried, & Sentimental

Author: Randi McQueen

As I sit in O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, it still hasn’t quite hit me that I will be leaving the comfort of the “Notre Dame bubble” for over eight months to study architecture in Italy. I keep telling myself things like, “It’s only a vacation,” and “I’ll be back to my normal routine soon,” but I know I am only kidding myself.

Rome Study Abroad

In the fall, I’ll miss every single Notre Dame football game and Thanksgiving and Christmas, two of my favorite holidays. And in the spring, I'll miss spending my other favorite holiday Easter with my family. I’ll miss an entire school year in South Bend with my closest friends. But above all, it hits me the hardest when I realize that the next time I return to Notre Dame, I will be a senior in college.

I had been looking forward to this year abroad without the slightest reservation or hesitancy since I received my acceptance letter to Notre Dame. If I continued along the architecture track as planned, I knew I would be required to study abroad, which was my lifelong dream. With such a bright future full of amazing cities and ancient architecture to explore, never did I ever imagine that saying goodbye to my friends and family would be so heartbreaking.

Just days before leaving America, I was embarrassed to admit that I felt more sad than excited about my upcoming adventure. I was disappointed in myself for being so ungrateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I began to reflect.

Of course I was looking forward to this eight-month adventure. Yes, it would require some sacrifices, but the experiences to come would outweigh them beyond comparison. Most importantly, I realized that the feelings of sadness were actually a good thing. Fortunately for me, I had developed friendships so great, that it made leaving so painful.

Although I won’t be participating in any typical Notre Dame traditions this school year, I am happy to build new traditions in exotic cities and develop new friendships. Learning about architecture in such a historic city will be unlike any experience I've had, and I am beyond thrilled to embark on such a culturally and educationally fulfilling adventure. I know that I’ll get homesick, and I’ll probably get even more “Dome-sick” in the coming months, but it will make my return to South Bend even greater next August.