Prelude To Italy!

Packed & Read To Go

Packed & Ready To Go

Prelude To Italy

I  have been given a rare opportunity, one that I can hardly believe. A chance of a lifetime one might say, to partake in the good fortune of travel abroad. Two weeks I will spend on distant Mediterranean shores, soaking in a strange sun and immersing myself in a foreign land. A fortnight in Italy will be my lot, following in the footsteps of ancient poets and captivating texts as I traverse the narrow cobblestoned streets of the most illustrious and fabled cities of old. What joys, what dangers, what experiences of extraordinary diversity shall I encounter on this forthcoming maiden voyage? How shall I cope with the uncertainties and hazards of life so far from my native land? How can Maddie Kurtz traverse the world yet still remain true to her inmost self?

If you cannot tell, my prose has already been heavily affected by copious doses of Vergil, Dante, and Boethius. After being obliged to read all of the Aeneid in a week to keep up with the accelerated schedule of a Maymester class at the MTSU Honors College, I can hardly write anymore without invoking the Muses and going on long diatribes about fate and ritualistic sacrifice to appease the Furies. The trip itself is part of a four week class studying Classic Italian Literature Before the Renaissance and I currently find myself embroiled in the first two weeks of breathless reading before we depart of the ancient land of the Roman Empire.

Inferno Reading

Inferno Reading

Yet besides my heavy reading load and weekly essays, I must also pack for two weeks abroad, considering all contingencies and planning for the fact that my hair will likely decide to form Spartacus-style rebellion on my scalp as my American curling irons and straighteners will likely commit an explosive suicide if I force them to adapt to Italian plugs. Stupid racist curling irons! Just accept European electricity!

So follicle insurrection must be considered as I frantically try to plan an entire 15 days worth of clothes, beauty products, and toiletries to survive in the fashion capital of the world without looking entirely pathetic in the wake of the famously stylish Italians (I have had a recurring nightmare that I try to purchase a scarf in Italy, but the venders see my split ends and wrinkled shirt and laugh at me, and then they force me to take a test on Calculus to make up for my lack of panache but its written in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Mussolini is there just eating a big bowl of gelato and staring at me with his crazy eyes… Maybe I just have weird dreams).

Cram Session

Cram Session

I must also consider the fact that all my 15 days worth of supplies must fit in a 20 inch bag and weigh under 50 pounds including stuff I will presumably buy in Italy as I revel in absolute wonderment of all the incredible things I want to purchase. My father then reminds me that I must not try to buy all of Italia. Forgetting that such a thing would be impossible, if I was to attempt to bring home a whole peninsula the TSA would probably decide to invade the boot-shaped nation and lay waste to all products that cannot fit into a three ounce bottle or a plastic baggie, consuming all the gelato and espresso in the world in front of my very eyes just to spite me. But I digress.

This trip is a very big deal to me, and the truth of this matter becomes increasingly apparent with every passing day that brings me closer to the date of departure. I have never been out of the country before, I have scarcely been separated from my parents for a period longer than a day or two. My mother and father are trusting me to go halfway around the globe for two whole weeks! The weight of the responsibility weighs heavily on my heart, the forthcoming glimpse at the approaching separation gives me pause. It will be up to me to make good choices or bad ones, flourish in my faith or let it wither, be instilled with amazement at the glory of God’s creation or collect a cynic’s jaded view of it. The freedom feels daunting indeed.

How can I remain connected to my life at home, with my family, church, and friends, when my body will be thousands of miles away across the vast Atlantic Ocean. How can I be a godly person when my spiritual strength is tested with the exercise of physical distance? It is a supreme test, one I pray that God will give me the grace to pass.

How will I do this? First I must approach this task like Queen Esther, through prayer and fasting, striving to leave home without any regrets. Second, I must remain connected with my loved ones at home. Luckily, I no longer live in the times of Paul when my messages would take months or years to travel long distances, and I have the blessing of having Skype, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts to keep me well within the bosom of the Saints. Third, I must look at this trip with the right mindset. This trip is one of a primarily academic nature, with the fourteen other students and I am mainly there to observe the fascinating cultural heritage of three thousand years of Italian civilization, yet it is also a chance for me to show the reverent behavior that I have been learning at Remnant Fellowship.

Ms. Gwen often talks about acting “royal,” which means displaying a splendid sense of wisdom and love to everyone we meet, having the best manners, most gentle spirit, and kindest actions. That is my goal and inspiration for how I want to act in Italy. I want to display the Christ-like spirit of total love and righteousness that I have seen in so many people I know here, not only for the next two weeks, but for the rest of my life. I feel like I have the opportunity to be an ambassador for not just my school and country, but also for my faith, and I am striving very hard to be a conduit for God’s holy love, like all the beautiful examples of purity I see every day.

Right now I am studying and praying very hard so I am prepared both in mind and heart for this upcoming trek. I want my every action to glorify God, whether through my studies, or my actions, or my words. I also want to keep a detailed record of my trip that I can recount to people. My goal for the fifteen days of my travel abroad is to send a recap of each day back to Tennessee via the wondrous Internet so I can fully appreciate this amazing opportunity that God has allowed me to have. I hope that this little travelogue can be fun and entertaining as I voyage across the world!

So I say ciao for now! Till we meet again!