All Roads Lead to Verona

Verona's amphitheatre pixabay.com CC0

Written by  December 17, 2018

When things don't go to plan, make a new one. 

September 16, 2018: The start of my year abroad as an Erasmus student at the University Of Verona, Italy. This was not, however, my preferred option of a placement abroad, nor the one upon which I had focused all my efforts (and hopes).

Initially, my plan was to secure a job in Italy. But many-a-cover letter, speculative applications, and one disastrous phone interview later, my hopes were fading fast. I could no longer ignore the little seed of doubt that had been growing in the back of my mind: It was time to admit defeat and switch to an Erasmus study placement. In all honesty, this constituted a failure by my perfectionist standards. I was disappointed in myself that I had not been able to achieve my goal.

I could no longer ignore the little seed of doubt that had been growing in the back of my mind: It was time to admit defeat

After a few days of feeling sorry for myself and something along the lines of "don’t be so silly, Katie" from my parents, I came to realize that cutting my losses and changing my original ambitious plan for my year abroad was not actually the big failure that I was making it out to be.

In fact, as a beginner student of Italian, a study placement would be more suitable for me—although working in Italy might look better on my CV, studying abroad is still one hell of an achievement. It would also help get my Italian up to scratch while providing the freedom to travel and explore the country properly.

It still wasn't easy, though. At that point, my options were limited, as the study abroad placements had already been allocated. Out of the few remaining choices, it was Verona that really appealed to me. Situated in the north of Italy, Verona is rich with cultural heritage, (the Roman amphitheatre being a prime example) and is the quintessential Italian city. Despite its size (just over 250,000 inhabitants), Verona boasts good rail links to all the major cities. (For example, Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan, and the stunning scenery of Lake Garda are but a bus journey away.) With this in mind, my decision was made and I was confident that it was the right one. 

Fast forward seven months. I was sitting in the departure lounge at Bristol Airport waiting for my gate to be displayed. My term abroad in Granada (southern Spain) had taught me that there is a strange comfort in traveling alone with just yourself and your belongings to think about, and I felt oddly calm about the solo journey upon which I was about to embark.

One flight, coach journey, and taxi ride later and I arrived, a hot and sticky mess (thanks to the unseasonably warm September weather) to the apartment that would be my home for the next nine months.

After months of planning, preparation, and endless paperwork (thank you unnecessarily stressful student EHIC application process) I was finally in Verona; nervous, excited and covered in mosquito bites, but, most importantly, ready to start my year abroad adventure.

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a 21-year-old student of Spanish and Italian at the University of Leeds. She is currently spending her year abroad on an Erasmus study placement at the University of Verona, Italy.

Website: https://www.instagram.com/katiemenna_/

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