Nervous about my first time abroad
My name is Lindsey and yes, you read it correctly… I’ve never been abroad! As a D.C. native, it’s almost blasphemous that coming from an international hub, I’ve never been outside of the U.S. Up until this point in my life, I didn’t really think twice about it. It isn’t because I disliked traveling. I’ve been all over the United States and I know the East Coast like the back of my hand. So, was it because I wasn’t interested? Absolutely not! International cultures, cuisines, faiths, and ideas are some of the most interesting things in the world to me.
So what was holding me back? This is a question I really had to sit with myself and reflect on to answer. The truth is, the thing holding me back from exploring a different culture was the lingering fear of how people abroad would react to my intersecting identities.
Being Black, gay, and a woman is hard enough in the U.S. Luckily, I have such an amazing support system back home. Even when faced with opposition because of who I am, I’m able to brush it off. In D.C., I know where to go, how to stay safe, and who not to talk to. However, in a different culture, where I don’t speak the language, nor know the attitudes toward people like me, I was worried that my life abroad would be extremely difficult because I am Black, gay, and first time abroad.
Why abroad? Why Italy?
I’ve been wanting to go to Italy ever since I first fell in love with Italian food there. When I saw a chance during my sophomore year of college, I decided that it was time to take a trip. This didn’t mean I wasn’t anxious at all. In fact, the month leading up to my CIS Abroad stay was a rollercoaster of emotions. I was afraid to leave the loving and supportive environment of home to journey to a place I had never stepped foot into. I was worried that there would be no one else like me, that no one would understand what I’m coming from and who I am. And if you can relate to my situation, I just want you to know that I understand you, I really do. My identity is such an important part of who I am, and it’s a part that I won’t hide.
Learning more about myself and the world, because of CIS Abroad
But with all this being said, I have to make one thing clear: Studying abroad in Florence is the best decision I’ve ever made. This trip so far has been the adventure of a lifetime! I had all these expectations and doubts because of being Black, gay, and first time abroad, but when I got here, I decided to take it one day at a time. And every day, I’ve learned something new about myself and the world. I’ve traveled to places I never even thought to go, I’ve met amazing friends, eaten the most delicious food, and all because of CIS Abroad. I’ll leave you with what I’ve learned from my abroad experience: there are always going to be people who don’t understand who you are, but don’t let that hold you back from discovering more about yourself.
Our advisors understand the impact our identities have our experiences abroad. Have any questions for them? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If Lindsey’s blog post “Black, Gay, and First Time Abroad” resonates with you, check out CISabroad’s Inclusion and Access Abroad page!