Sofia Hernandez

In the summer after my freshman year, I was given the opportunity to study abroad in Italy for a fashion design course. It seemed like heaven until my dad said I’d be spending the whole month of July there. I was grateful for an amazing opportunity like this, but I was going to be flying to a whole different continent by myself. I went through a program called Abbey Roads, and I would be meeting the rest of the group at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. My parents had driven me to LAX, and planned to walk me to my gate. I put on a smile to seem brave in front of my parents, even though I was panicking on the inside. As I approached my gate, I heard my mom say, “Ok Sof, turn around so I can take a picture of you”. When I turned around, tears flooded my eyes. I was afraid to travel by myself, let alone to a different continent. I gave my parents one last hug, and turned away to board the plane. Not wanting to turn back to wave them goodbye, I walked through the passenger boarding bridge; I didn’t want them to see me anxious and crying.
I got onto the airplane and walked to my seat and placed my luggage in the compartment above my row. I sat in my seat and kept quiet until my plane took off.
When I got to J.F.K., I became so confused with people rushing past me and the many signs surrounding me. I got lost and decided to call my dad. I was crying uncontrollably while trying to catch my breath as the phone rang. My dad finally picked up and heard me crying. He told me to take deep breaths and to call the lady from the head of the program. My hands shakily found her contact as I hit the call button. The lady, Mariana, was really nice and offered me clear directions on how to locate the rest of the group. I made sure to follow her instructions, and I suddenly came upon a group of people sitting down in a circle. Since I am shy, I was nervous to meet new people. All eyes had settled upon me. I was embarrassed that my sad, droopy eyes had given away that I was crying previously. Sitting down with the rest of the group, I had noticed everyone seemed to know one or more people, unlike myself; I was afraid I wasn’t going to make any new friends.
When we got up to board our next flight to Milan, a girl named Maya came up to me and we introduced ourselves.. She had been very welcoming and our friendship took off from there. After the long flight we spent a day in Milan and attended the beautiful gothic cathedral, Duomo di Milano. When the day was over, we went on a bus to Florence, where I was to spend the rest of my 29 days. Maya and I started my fashion course at 9 o’clock sharp. I was to make sure I woke up on time, grabbed my coffee at a café, and met at the steps of a nearby library each day.
During fashion class, I would look at inspiration, sketch my design out, gather materials, create a pattern, sew the pattern onto my desired fabric, leave an inch of space when cutting around the pattern, and then collect my pieces and sew them together. Trying to look for inspiration came easy, especially being in the heart of a heavily populated city. Our class had many field trips not just for gaining inspiration, but to also explore Florence's famous cathedrals and other architectures. When the trip was coming to an end, we visited the San Gimignano Towers, huge and beautifully intact. We had the option of climbing the stairs all the way to the top of the tower. Maya and I were always up for an adventure, so we knew we couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste. As we barely managed to catch our breaths, we reached the top of the tower. I was in awe of the scenery around me. The bright blue sky lured over the endless green fields of grass. We were so close to the sky, almost making it seem like the clouds were within our reach. At 1,063 feet above the ground, I felt at peace; I knew that I was meant to be there. Traveling by myself had given me the courage to become more independent, explore new places, and meet new people, and inspired me to take on new challenges.