A Year Ago Today…

In the past month I have had so many one-year anniversaries that it’s getting hard to keep track of them all!  Some of you are probably thinking that I’m talking about the traditional, relationship kind of anniversary, but I’m talking about something much, MUCH more exciting.  January 14th, 2013 marked the one-year milestone of when I departed for Italy on a semester-long study abroad trip!

When I first came to Iowa State now almost four years ago, I would have told you there was absolutely NO WAY I would ever be one of those people who wanted to study abroad.  Heck, at that point I was still nervous about taking 100-level introduction courses!  However, by the time I was halfway through my first semester as a freshman here I had already made room in my four-year plan (yes, the one that was required in FHP, the First-Year Honors Program) for a study abroad experience at some point.

I think in this sense, being involved in Honors truly changed my outlook for what I expected from college.  I was constantly surrounded by people driven to experience all that they could in four (or five) years, which, by default, drove me to do the same.  In fact, my best friend Emily, who lived on Martin Starbuck (one of the honors floors) with me freshman year, did the same program as me and her encouragement was a big motivator when I was deciding to go.  This example is one of the classic reasons why the Honors experience is so centered on the people!

Emily, my other friends from the program, and I all celebrated the start of over three months of traveling, eating, laughing, exploring and a little studying.  It was a bittersweet celebration and it really made me want to turn the back the clock!  Yet, at the same time, it was such a rewarding feeling to reflect on all I did while I was there and know without a doubt that it was one of the best decisions of my life.

The day I left for Italy was a major day in my life but I actually consider all of the other little anniversaries that I referenced above to be much more important.  For example, the day I first stepped foot in the beautiful, northern Italy town of Paderno del Grappa (where our program was located) or the day I first met my roommate and now extremely close friend Beth are days in my life that I know I’ll never forget.  Every weekend that goes by always makes me think of what I was doing a year ago at that time.  The anniversary of my first trip to the incredible city of Verona, Italy was on January 21st, Slovenia the 28th and Milan February 4th.  And now, as I sit in my apartment in Ames writing this, I just realized that if I were in Italy a year ago right now, I would be packing to leave on my first travel week to Venice, Rome, Pompeii and Paris.  I’m trying to tell myself that it’s Friday and almost the weekend but for some reason it’s not making me feel any better…

The memories I made and the people I met in Italy were unbelievable – the entire experience was completely life changing.  I would definitely say it was a major highlight of my time at college!  Studying abroad is something a lot of students at Iowa State and in Honors choose to take part in and it is at the top of the list of things I would encourage everyone to try!

021113 Johanson picture 1 021113 Johanson picture 2

Fun fact about The picture of the three people (Emily, Aaron and myself) is that we all met freshman year when we lived on Martin Starbuck (an Honors House).  Emily did the same program as me and we met up and traveled with Aaron (who was in the Netherlands) a couple times while we were there.  Starbuck for life!!

-Posted by Kirsten

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