A Mother’s Opinion Part I

Dear Reader,

So…I apologize. I have been a very neglectful blogger in the past few weeks. I did indeed visit my friend Lauren in Chicago (I will elaborate upon this trip later), and work has taken over my live, and maybe I have just been a bit lazy. So, to get me back into the swing of things, I have decided to ask my mother to write an article pertaining to my trip and her thought about it :). Enjoy!

P.S. This will likely be lengthy and shared in parts so return for the ending :).

The following section is written by Cynthia A. Schrage.

When Sophia started My Mommyat Saint Mary’s, she told me she was going to take Italian. At first, I was a little surprised, because she’d taken French in high school, but since she’d always avoided using me as a resource (I’m a French major, and she said asking me for help felt like cheating), I got used to her making up her own mind about her educational options. She said she wanted to study abroad in Italy, since Saint Mary’s has an excellent Rome program, and I thought that sounded like a wonderful idea. (My parents were totally against studying abroad, despite protestations from teachers, neighbors, and family friends alike, so naturally I’m all for it!) I did wonder if she’d follow up with the idea, since college freshmen are statistically prone to making considerable changes during their first year, but I wasn’t going to discourage her. She’s got a lot more stick-to-it-tiveness than I do, that’s for sure, and I’m not the kind of parent that espouses the view that throwing all sorts of potential obstacles that might need to be overcome is a good way of determining a child’s real desire to pursue something. I’m more inclined to think that life does a pretty good job of that on its own, and there’s no need for me to participate. I did privately wonder how we’d afford it, but told her to go ahead, and made the personal decision that we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. (I’m also of the opinion that saying you can’t afford to do something is a great excuse for never doing anything, and I remember my mother saying that if you waited until you could afford to have children, you’d never have any. How that translates into a trip to Italy is a bit unclear, but that’s how it works for me.)

I encouraged her study of Italian as best as I could, even buying her a cheap set of educational CD’s that she could play to help outside of class. (I don’t think she’s ever listened to them…alas… Her methods of language learning are not like mine.) If I had lived closer to her, I might easily have taken the time to learn Italian myself, but frankly, I’ve got enough to do with learning Spanish (to use at church) and keeping up with French (because it seems wrong not to).

During the year, there were Study-Abroad sessions to attend, complete with slide shows, and presentations by students who had gone in previous semesters. All designed to create or sustain interest. All of which Sophia diligently attended, even though some of them seemed a little tedious to her (though finding out about whether the school provided insurance for injuries sustained during the trip seemed much more vital to me, the concerned parent). There were forms to fill out, timelines to consider, and lists of supplies that were indeed necessary, as opposed to just appealing.

Thank God for digital photography and Skype. That’s all I need to say.

Now she’s really going. The countdown has begun (at this writing there are 58 days and some hours before she leaves) and she’s getting her ducks in a row. First we got her passport, which was sort of a pain, but not insurmountable. Then, we got her plane ticket. Once that hurdle was jumped, there seemed to be no turning back. My father is still more than a little mystified about why a child needs (or would even want) to study in a foreign county, but slowly seems to be figuring out that his opinion in this doesn’t matter. He’s a smart man and has voiced some excellent questions, some of which have certainly encouraged Sophia (who, I believe, does secretly seek his approval in this) to really nail down why she does feel that this is a “valuable educational experience,” and not just a “really cool thing to do.”

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