In July 2018 I flew from Sicily, that is my fatherland, to Amsterdam in order to take part in the 17th International Congress of Christian Archaeology, held in the cities of Utrecht and Nijmegen from the 1st to the 7th.
This event is one of the most important within my field of research, Early Christian Archaeology, and since my bachelor degree I dreamt of partake in it. This dream could become true due to two factors. First, even though I am still a master student, I am very determined and this led me to submit a successful abstract for a poster. Only 20 papers were selected and I do not deny that I was flattered when I heard that mine was accepted. Secondly and most importantly, being a self-funded student who works part-time to pay for her education, without the economic support given to me by the GoAbroad grant, I could have not afforded the travelling and accommodation expenses for this conference.
Before leaving, my greatest concern was that, reading the program, I realised that I was going to be the only master student among all the speakers, who were either established academics or PhD candidates from all around Europe and oversea. Moreover, I am a shy person. This was the first time that I attended a conference as a speaker, which meant that for the first time in my academic life I came to terms with the situation of delivering an oral presentation in English, which is not my mother tongue, in front of a public of esteemed scholars. So many sleepless nights preceded my oral presentation.
Looking back at this experience, I am glad to say that I learned a lot from it. It allowed me to push myself beyond my limits, which I understood only dwell in our minds. Surprisingly enough, I fought my shyness standing up for myself. Not only I went on introducing myself to those academics who I never believed to be in the same room with, but also I gave a brilliant oral presentation receiving compliments from the public. Furthermore, I learned that, with all due precautions, travelling on my own was a positive experience, which helped me understand a great deal of myself. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I meet people from different continents and with a different background, who I enjoy immensely to exchange views with. I had the possibility to visit places where I never was before, and that have enriched my own knowledge. What I achieved went well beyond my expectations and I feel 100% satisfied with regard to this experience of which I would not change anything.
My thanks go to the GoAbroad who believed in me and supported me. What GoAbroad gave to me was not only a financial help, but motivation to pursue this dream of mine. Thanks to the wonderful team of GoAbroad for their kindness and patience given to me throughout the stages of the application process.