When I was 17, I decided my future was in Italy. I would live in a tiny house at the top of a hill, where I would spend my days alternating writing great novels with walking down the hill to buy books and ice cream.

Awkward high school Tara, dreaming of Italy from Idaho.

But because I was a kid from a town of 300 people in northern Idaho, I didn’t go to Italy. I went to the University of Idaho.

In college, classes, work and relationships swooped in to fill my days. I knew other students studied abroad, but I was sure it was too expense and time-consuming for me. Italy was out of reach.

I was far too busy being emo with my college newspaper pals to study abroad

More than a decade later, I became Student Media adviser at UI, guiding undergrads in the same programs I loved as a student. I heard them saying the same things I did about studying abroad: I can’t get behind in my academics, I can’t leave my job, I can’t afford it.

I didn’t want my students to miss out like I did — but I didn’t really know how to help. Then I learned about the Faculty-Staff International Development Award program, a partnership between UI’s International Programs Office and the University Studies Abroad Consortium. FIDA awards give faculty and staff members like me the opportunity to experience a study abroad program so we can return and help our students and university.

Italy was back on the map.

In summer 2019, I’ll be spending six weeks in Viterbo, a town in central Italy just a few hours north of Rome.

Tim, the kiddos and me camping along the St. Joe River in rural Idaho last summer — basically the same as Rome, right?

It won’t exactly be languid days of writing and gelato (though I certainly intend to make them part of my experience) — I’ve got a long list of things to do in my short time overseas. I’ll study travel photography through USAC, build connections with the local university’s journalism program, experience the culture and explore the landscape. My husband and two sons will be along for the ride.

This blog will help you follow our adventures — and, I hope, inspire some of your own.