Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

My post-grad plan was very simple. I was going to move to Chicago, work at a university, and help students who wanted to study abroad. I’d share a great apartment with a few friends and go out on dates with the same kind of boy I would have dated while still in college, except this time, he would be dressed in a suit and tie instead of soft t-shirts and Vans.

But plans have a way of changing.

I went to Chicago. I had a full time job offer. The stars were aligning and I was going to live my dream.

And then I changed my mind. It wasn’t so much because those things didn’t appeal to me anymore as it was that I could not close the door on a new opportunity I had been offered.

This opportunity involved me moving to the European city of Milan, Italy in order for me to teach high school students the crazy, complicated English language. Fact numero uno:  I have never taught. Fact numero due:  I originally wanted to major in education, took one class and hated it. Fact numero tre:  I must be crazy.

The fact of the matter is I had nothing to lose by moving to Milan. I had no obligations, no binding ties to a place or a person.

I’m sure some of my friends thought, yes, indeed, Mollie has finally lost it. Maybe some people judged me because teaching English as a foreign language is just a more polite and professional way of saying “fun gap year,” right? The fact of the matter is I had nothing to lose by moving to Milan. I had no obligations, no binding ties to a place or a person. So I said yes. I don’t call that crazy, I call that taking advantage of the situation. Because of my decision, I am exposed firsthand to the foreign language I studied in college and the culture of a people I love.

Moving to Italy has provided me with innumerable anecdotes on culture shock, classroom experiences, and travel. I genuinely look forward to waking up the next day and participating in the mundane activities of daily life. Each one is a new opportunity to learn new Italian phrases. Morning commutes, I’ve noticed, are especially good for this. Stopping in at the local bar, which is just a coffee shop that turns into a bar at night, makes me feel like I’ve been here for years. The barista, Pino, greets me with a booming, “Ciao, gioia! Come stai oggi?” (Hey, honey! How are you today?) And there is nothing like sharing a laugh with a friend and that first bite of carbonara.

Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

Being here allows me to see beauty in normality and to appreciate all aspects of my situation. I cannot tell you that it has all been easy. In fact, there have been times where I’ve wanted to pull my hair out in frustration. I will remain, however, a strong advocate for the “fun gap year.” I encourage everyone to have an adventure and invest in your future by experiencing beautiful moments–no matter how normal–that you will remember and cherish for the lifetime ahead of you.

Being here allows me to see beauty in normality and to appreciate all aspects of my situation.

I hope that each and every one of you will dream big, appreciate the small, and take full advantage of new opportunities. Sometimes the most amazing things are found through the most unexpected means. Paulo Coelho famously wrote, “When you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it,” and I could not find truer words than these for the turn my life has taken.

I know it seems like my life in Italy is far from what I had planned for myself, but in all actuality, there are only slight differences. Instead of Chicago, I’m in Milan. Both cities have a lot to offer in terms of nightlife, attractions, museums, architecture, and amazing food. Milan just happens to be across the ocean. I don’t work at a university as a study abroad advisor, but I do work at a high school helping students to learn a language that will no doubt be very useful if and when they choose to go abroad. I live in an apartment with new Italian friends, and I have gone on dates with both the suit and t-shirt wearing Italian men.

I’d say my dreams and my reality are lining up pretty well, simply because I took a leap of faith and didn’t question the pattern the stars had mapped out for me.

Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy, Live in Italy

About Mollie Swanson

2 thoughts on “Changing My Post-Grad Plans to Live in Italy

  1. Avatar
    March 4, 2014
    Reply

    Wow, good for you!! I’m a Spanish undergrad and have been having trouble picking out a career path myself. I love language and travel and actually started looking at study abroad coordinator positions at US universities. …but it doesn’t quite feel like my niche. I thought teaching might be fun, but I too dislike the thought of majoring. I have wanderlust bad, and it nags at me often. I am on the verge of grad school and a point in my life where I can make a big change….I really really want to travel more! My only problem is money, so why not travel and work, right? (the dream) I love Europe and speak Spanish pretty well so I wouldn’t be totally lost. 😉 I have some crazy ideas, but no one I know understands that you don’t have to live the conventional life if you don’t want to. I’m going to get my ESL certificate and see where I can go from there. You have inspired me to try looking for a job abroad!

    • Avatar
      Mollie
      March 4, 2014

      Jaci, that’s awesome! If I could give you any advice I would say go with your gut! If wanderlust is your motivator, I don’t think there’s any better time in your life to do something wild and maybe slightly out of character! Everything will work out, I can promise you that. I wish you all the best!

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