Made for Milan


They say if you love something let it go and if it’s meant to be, it will come back. So by that property, if I love Italy, that means Italy will come back to me- or naturally, I’ll just go back.

A little update on my life: I will be entering my senior year at the University of Washington and I plan to graduate this year with a bachelors in business administration and marketing. Filling most of my time cooking gourmet dishes, taking in the fresh air outdoors, taking photos, indulging in fashion, and cherishing moments with family and friends, the time I have left is usually spent enjoying and experiencing everything to do with traveling the world. So when given the opportunity to spend fall quarter abroad in Italy, it sounded more like an itinerary than a suggestion. Pair that with two years of Italian language classes behind me and a direct exchange with the number one business school in Europe, Bocconi University, I am very eager to go to Milan, Italy this fall to study abroad… Again. Last spring I studied abroad in Rome and Calabria, Italy, where the main focus of my studies was Italian history, culture, nation, and language. My first time living in Italy gave me an abundance of knowledge that I would have not known had I not studied abroad. From constantly wishing water was free at meals to understanding that there is no such thing as morning unless it refers to the time when a dinner party ends, to learning the appropriate (and not so appropriate) way to tell someone to go away and the difference in pronunciation between Papà and papa (unless your dad is the Pope, this is important), the components of Italian culture, history, language, nation and people taught me not only a new understanding of others’ cultures, but have also solidified how I identify myself in my own beliefs, ethnicity, community, faith, country and culture. 


Recently a lot of people who see me in person are actually surprised to see me in person, as they assume I am constantly traveling around the world (which it sometimes feels like) and am never in one place. While I do admit I travel a lot, my faith, family, and friends sweetly remind me where my true home is. With that said, each new hello is a temporary goodbye. When I go abroad, there are a few things I do miss, so much so that I have to name them here, just to get myself out of denial that I will be without them for an extended period of time.

1. Washington apples- Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious; in that exact order.

2. Costco- Where else am I supposed to buy a package of pre-cut broccoli meant to feed a family of 10 for a week?

3. Avocados- This will be my fifth time to Italy and I still have yet to see a single one.

4. Salmon- Might as well take away oxygen along with it.

5. Authentic Mexican food- In relation to number 3.

6. Burgers- Not the greasy, unhealthy American fast food kind. I’m talking a nice, big, juicy, grilled burger epitomizing summertime BBQs and delicious, drool-worthy perfection.

7. REALLY big salads- In Italy, a salad is lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, balsamic and oil and nothing else… EVER.

8. Target- Pretty much my one-stop shop for anything I need… and lots of things I don’t need but somehow magically end up buying anyways.

9. Ice cubes- Drinking cool water is not the same as drinking cold water.

10. AM and PM time/ US metric system- Why Americans are the last to use the metric system beats me so really, this is more of an inconvenience than something I’ll miss.

11. The PNW (Pacific Northwest for those who don’t know)- Mountains and rivers and nature, oh my.

12. Tailgating season- There’s nothing good food, great friends and game day spirit can’t fix.

13. Driving- Roadtrips aren’t the same if you have to walk.

14. My bed- Emphasis on my.

15. Tri-Cities sunsets (and sunrises) – A little snapshot of heaven and home all in one.

16. Familiarity- For my family and friends, thank goodness for FaceTime.

Okay, so most of them are food related and honestly, the list could go on for much longer, but the saying that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone is multiplied by the most minimal of things when home is 5,365 miles away. Of course, there are things in Italy that make up for certain losses like taking naps after lunch daily, getting to travel the world every weekend, speaking one of the world’s most beautiful languages, and of course, eating gelato. Among the things that I dearly wish I could bring from home, the one thing I truly hope to bring with me are prayers. With the recent events and tragedies around the world, certain parts of Europe have increased in risk and danger. Going abroad, I am educated on the situation and have the common sense to stay safe, but any and all prayers for safety and protection throughout my time abroad will be taken with extreme gratitude. Prayers that I and my fellow foreign exchange students travel with ease and safety; and that our time abroad may be filled with fun adventures, learning, happiness, friendships, and unforgettable memories.


Looking ahead, I have little expectations for what should happen and great expectations for what could and can happen. A bit wiser, older, and more fluent in Italian, any fear I have is soon to turn into an insuppressible wonder, wanderlust, and way too many blog posts to keep track of it all. No matter how far away I go, my upcoming stories of growing, learning, seeing, doing, sharing and traveling the world will only be a post away.

“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of the land remote,

To travel is to live.”

~ Hans Christian Andersen



  1. LaVonne Praino
    August 18, 2016 / 12:23 am

    You are a gifted writer!!i wish you all the best: safe travels, great fun, exciting new adventures, good friends, great food and so much more! What an amazing opportunity you have earned!! I will keep you in my prayers!

  2. Karen johnson
    December 1, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    Soleil, I just love your writing… And I can’t wait to see you when you get home. What a wonderful adventure you’ve been on! Continuing to hold you in my prayers…
    Love, Karen

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