Hi, my name is Suleima Cervantes I’m currently attending UC Santa Cruz as an Anthropology major and this is my first blog before my first study abroad experience in Rome, Italy. It honestly hit me today that I’m about to leave my home for the first time which got really overwhelming for a minute because I didn’t know if I was packing the right stuff or if I had appropriate clothing for Italy. It’s funny how you apply for a program, get accepted, and have to go through many webinars and forms in order to have this amazing experience yet still feel clueless about what you are doing. Nothing could have really prepared me for this, especially leaving behind my family and kitten. My boyfriend and I adopted a 2-month-old kitten which we named Basil in October which I wasn’t sure about it at first since i would be gone from January to March but I knew that my boyfriend would take great care of her but it’s it makes me really sad having to leave her behind and not see her grow up during the months I’m away. I think my family is also having a tough time dealing with the fact that I’m going to a different country which I understand since they had gone through it before when they arrived in the United States. They have been telling me stories of how it was when they got to California and how they were terrified to be in a country where they didn’t know anyone or the language. This had me thinking about how I would be experiencing these challenges as well while in Italy since I don’t know the language and culture as well as I should. Luckily I won’t be by myself in Italy. I’m doing this program with one of my closest friends Sarah which takes away from the fear since I won’t face these challenges by myself. We have been using Duolingo in order to at least learn basic phrases once we arrive but sadly the only thing I’ve really grasped so far is how to order a coffee with sugar and a croissant, (un caffè con zuccherato e un cornetto) which in my defense I can at least order breakfast for myself. Overall, I am really excited about this new journey I’m about to embark on. A year ago I would’ve never guessed that I would be going abroad since I was worried about how expensive it could be but now I know that where there’s a will there’s a way and I couldn’t be happier. I’m excited to learn a new language, learn more about Italian culture, eat a bunch of delicious food, drink good wine, go to archeological sites which I’ve only read about or seen on TV, and much much more. I hope this experience will open doors to more opportunities to travel and further expand my studies. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to study abroad and will do my best to take full advantage of this and I hope you follow along on my journey through Italy.