When I was younger, I always wanted to be like my Aunt Julie. She was living abroad in Italy, and had been there most of my childhood. I remember one time, when she visited me, I printed off 100 of Italian phrases I translated on Google Translate (you thought Google Translate had funny translations now, imagine 14 years ago!) and tried to read them to her in the car on my way to school. She helped me with some of the words, but mainly she laughed at the ridiculous phrases G.T. gave.
When I got home from school that day I announced to my family,” I will be taken Italian in high school and move to Italy just like Aunt Julie!” As I stood there, proudly letting it sink in, my mom pointed out that Italian is not offered in our school district. I was distraught. How was I ever going to fulfill my
just that day life-long dream?
I quickly started brainstorming ideas and thought of France. “Oh, France is next to Italy!” my twelve-year old brain thought. I can study French and that will get me close enough to Italy and then I can just learn Italian in college because they are very similar, right?!” So, I ran down to my parents and told them my new plan.
Sure enough, a year later when it came to sign up for high school classes, my parents didn’t push Spanish on me, and I registered for French. This was only going to be a minor four year setback to my goal of learning Italian and living in Italy. Thing was, I actually really liked French once I started learning it. “That’s okay,” my now 14 year-old-self, “I can be trilingual!” (HA! I had high expectations for myself!)
Fast-forward to the summer in-between junior and senior year of high school where I got to take a trip to with my French class to France. I was SO excited, especially since we were going to Southern France and Monaco WHICH WAS RIGHT NEXT TO ITALY! See? My twelve-year old brain was right, I was going to be so close to Italy! My Aunt Julie was even going to come visit me from Italy in Nice. My plan was unfolding nicely. However, something happened that I didn’t expect: I fell in love with France.
Nice sealed the deal. After walking the streets, it just felt like home and I knew that I had to and will live in France one day. My dream had been squashed and a new one created in a matter of seconds. Who knew how much a little class trip and country could have on me in two short weeks?
I came home from the trip, this time proudly telling my parents that I was no longer going to study political science at college (university) and that I was now going to study French and work in France. And you know what? They didn’t stop me. They let met carry out my “maybe-not-so-sensical” career path and I graduated with a degree in French and Certificate in TESOL. And you want to know what again? I got great use of that “interesting, nonsensical” degree when I taught English in France. What more can you ask for?
I never expected my life to turn out like this, but there are people and things that happen in your life that shape its outcome. I am forever grateful for my parents, aunt, and that school trip for influencing my current nomadic, nontraditional, wandering life.
P.S. I did make it it Italy when I studied abroad – those Google Translate phrases didn’t get me very far!
Have you had a similar experience where your life direction just suddenly changed or someone influenced you/allowed you to follow your dreams, even if they aren’t “traditional?” Let me know the comments below!