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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

March Recap: Self confidence, aspirations and insecurities.

So March flew by in the blink of an eye and now it is April. I basically have around 2 months left here in Bergamo which is absolutely CRAZY considering it feels like just yesterday I actually flew out here for the first time, but now I am having to start seriously thinking about how I am going to bring all my belongings home with me in two suitcases… Going to be kinda tricky me thinks!

I thought I’d use this post to just reflect on what happened in March and what is going to be happening in April, as well as how things are generally for me at the minute. I am pretty sure there are going to be some current Manchester students reading this very soon thanks to my lovely Italian teacher, so I also wanted to address my fears before coming out here versus the reality. 

March was a hectic month for me as I visited friends across Italy and my mum and aunt came to visit. Whilst this year has been great as I haven’t technically had to ‘work’, I have been teaching English once a week so throwing that into the mix as well as my studies and general day-to-day things, it was a pretty busy time! I visited Pisa, Florence, Bologna, Venice (again), Lake Como and Brescia, which you can read all about in my previous blog posts in detail. Studying abroad has really increased my interest in travel and visiting new places, as whilst I loved a good holiday and appreciated different cultures a lot before I came here, I was never the kind of person to choose a weekend break over a new outfit. Also, I worked in a restaurant so time off at weekends was extremely scarce and couldn’t have travelled as much as I can now even if I had wanted to, so I am truly making the most of this freedom while I still can.

I feel my language acquisition has come on leaps and bounds these past few weeks as my confidence has grown immensely. I make no secret of the fact that my confidence during my first two years at university was absolutely rock bottom due to a number of factors, and doing this year abroad has seriously saved my degree. My first year teacher - who will also be my final year teacher - told me she is so proud of how far I have come which meant so much to me because she knew just how difficult I found everything for the past two years. I am at a point now where I do still get nervous if I am in a position where I have to speak in front of a large group of people and if I am caught off guard my initial response is still to flap a bit, but I am getting there. To be honest I probably need to give myself a little bit more credit but the most important thing is that I am happy and really getting to grips with the language.

The weather here has taken a turn for the BEAUTIFUL all of a sudden, which would be great if I wasn’t a pale whale who keeps forgetting that it is hotter than summer in the UK and ends up sweating in a jumper by midday. Last night we had thunder and lightning which was a bit of a weird experience after about two weeks of solid sunshine, but today was back to its gloriously sunny self which I happened to find out the wrong way after deciding to take the 30 minute uphill walk route to uni rather than the bus, in a “danger-grey” top. After speaking to the boys who I tutor English, this weather is apparently quite abnormal for Bergamo at this time of year but I am absolutely not complaining because the likelihood is that when I get back to England it’ll be a rainy summer to bring me back down to reality in preparation for September.

I have really started thinking about what I want to do after university. Final year is fast approaching and as I am technically two years behind all my high school friends who graduated last year, I am feeling a bit left out as everyone has ‘proper’ jobs and lives whilst I am still fannying around waiting for my student loans to come in. I have to keep reminding myself that people do things at their own pace and comparing yourself to others is the absolute worst and stupidest thing you can do because after high school/sixth form there is no longer a set age where you should have completed everything by. A huge part of this is down to social media because it creates a visual competition with your peers, where you are constantly bombarded with the ‘highlight reel’ of peoples lives and feel you have to keep up with it. I am so bad for this, and am constantly jealous of someone’s new car or new house or new life and have to keep reminding myself that I am in a pretty good position as it is (living in ITALY for fucks sake) and these things will come in time. 

Another huge thing I wanted to mention was my personal insecurities regarding self image and mental health, because it is something that I have dealt with for my entire life and I know a lot of people feel the same way. I would honestly say that being in Italy has not only helped me study-wise but also seriously helped my mental health. Of course I often feel quite lonely and recently quite homesick because I have seen a lot of people who I associate with home and England in such a short space of time, but on the whole I have felt a lot more positive and been extremely motivated to do well in all aspects of my life. I won’t lie, when I first arrived I felt quite unsettled because I had never been in the position where I had none of my home comforts before, but having to force myself to adapt to this way of life and form my own life here has really improved my independence and helped me develop a stronger sense of self. For one, I would NEVER have published a blog discussing my more vulnerable attributes this time last year, as I would’ve been too afraid of what other people thought and sure that people would be making comments behind my back and generally taking the piss. Other people’s opinions have always affected me with regards to what I wear, do, say or see myself, right down to what I eat so I think I have come along way as although I do still care way, way too much about those sorts of things, I am starting to understand that I really shouldn’t be bothered about anyone else’s negative impact on my life. 

April is looking to be another mighty fine and exciting month; this weekend I will be reunited with my lovely friends from Manchester as we spend a few days in Milan, then next weekend I am going back to good old Warton for a couple of days and the week after that I go to Amsterdam with Sam for his birthday! Time is absolutely racing by and I know that before I know it, it will be May and I’ll be about to sit my final exams and properly preparing for returning to England. I cannot stress enough how much I have learnt this year and how happy I am for sticking to my guns and continuing on my original degree course despite all those times where I considered changing it or dropping out altogether. 

I’m going to leave this post here, as I don’t really have much else to say (for once)! I am currently completely addicted to Suits and trying to alternate watching one episode of that in English and then one episode of Friends in Italian to really absorb myself in the language, but naturally Suits is winning every single time and one episode is turning to three… you get the gist! 

Lauren x
Lauren Gibbins
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[name=Lauren Gibbins] [img=Your Image Url Here] [description=I'm Lauren, I'm a 21 year old student from Manchester currently studying in Italy for my erasmus year abroad.] ( ( (bloglovin=

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