Student Plans to Study Abroad in Italy

Simone Heim , News Editor

Within six months, Kathryn Eversmann ‘16 will be living abroad in Italy. Eversmann is graduating this year as a junior as part of the Early Graduation program with Westwood so she can travel abroad for her senior year. The decision to spend her senior year abroad, in Italy, was made last year; however, this wasn’t always her plan for her high school career.

“I got a few credits in Middle School, and I was on track for the IB diploma,” Eversmann said. “Then, during my sophomore meeting, my counselor looked at my credits and joked saying that ‘you could graduate a whole year early!’”

After meeting with her counselor to find out if it was a serious proposition, Eversmann began getting her graduation plan ready so that she could graduate a year early.

“[Preparing was] not as proactive as it sounds,” Eversmann said, “a lot of it was just a coincidence that I had credits that I needed.”

While many plan on graduating early, or at least have the intention to graduate early by the end of their freshman year, Eversmann didn’t fill out the proper paperwork for it until close to the end of the first semester of her sophomore year.

“For me, it wasn’t a plan at all,” Eversmann said. “Really, it was just another option for me based on what I had already done, credit wise.”

Eversmann, however, was struck by a bit of luck when it comes to her pursuing early graduation. For some, early graduation is not as easy to accomplish, especially if they start thinking about it during their sophomore year as opposed to their freshman year or before they enroll.

“For others, it’s something to plan from the beginning, it’s not always going to be a coincidence that you have all the credits you need,” Eversmann said. “You can take summer classes, maybe even take IB classes for two years like I did.”

While she didn’t realize this dream could even come true until quite recently, travelling to another country for her studies wasn’t a new idea for Eversmann, as she had been looking at taking the opportunity during college or maybe even after she graduated.

“My whole life, since I found out about traveling abroad, I’ve wanted to,” Eversmann said. “Graduating early gave me an opportunity to do that, I wasn’t going to pass that up.”

Eversmann will be traveling to Italy with the Rotary Youth Exchange program there, and will be finding out which city she’ll be living in within the next couple of months. Since she’s been getting ready to go for over a year, Eversmann has had a lot of time to think about the whole ordeal.

“I think the biggest struggle has been realizing how much my life is going to change,” Eversmann said. “Just the reality that life will be so different, and I have no prediction as to what [living in Italy] will be like.”

Although she’s also been busy with graduating, AP classes, out of school Italian classes, an all girls’ robotics team, and much more, Eversmann has still managed to have time to prepare mentally for leaving her home of many years to spend her senior year as a foreigner.

“It’s all about coming to terms with an uncertain future,” Eversmann said, “and just dealing with the fact that I can’t control what’s going to happen.”

While there’s plenty of dread and uncertainty that comes with this kind of transition, Kathryn wanted to make it clear that this adventure, while it may be long, tiring, and scary, is something she is very much excited and ready for.

“[I’m just looking forward to] learning to live a different life,” Eversmann said. ‘It’s such an amazing opportunity to live somewhere you’ve never even been before.”

Getting herself mentally and physically ready hasn’t been the only challenge with graduating early and traveling abroad though. Eversmann had to convince her parents before she could even consider taking this life changing trip.

“It was surprising, my family has been super supportive. Above all else, they’re just getting used to the idea of me being gone,” Eversmann said. “I’m getting ready because I won’t be able to talk to them as much, or really get support from them anymore.”

Convincing her parents just to let her go wasn’t the only thing to do either, there’s been a lot of mental preparation that has had to go into getting ready for how their parent-child relationship is going to change.

“[My parents] have been letting me be more independent to prepare for not being able to watch over me, so I’ve gotten to do a lot of things lately that they wouldn’t usually let me do,” Eversmann said. “Overall, we’ve just been working on me being more independent from my family.”

Eversmann and her family aren’t the only people who have been getting ready for this change; Eversmann’s friends have been supporting her the best they can.

“It’s interesting to see what she’ll do,” Jackson Freeman ‘17 said, “but it’s also hard to see her go and miss her last year of high school. I think above all it’ll be fun to see where she’ll go.”

Even though this hasn’t been her plan since her freshman year, Eversmann has become used to the idea that this really is her last few months at Westwood.

“Honestly I can’t imagine four years at Westwood now that I’m only doing three,” Eversmann said.

While she may have been undergoing all sorts of preparation over the last year or so, Eversmann still feels pretty nervous about living in Italy for a year.

“It’s kind of cliche, but I think I’m most nervous about fluency. I’ve only been studying Italian for a year and a half,” Eversmann said. “It’ll be so rewarding once I get it, but the process from square one is going to be difficult.”

As her final day in Austin as a high schooler approaches, Eversmann has been preparing the only way a true Austinite could.

“Lately I have been doing a lot more down town and tourist-like stuff,” Eversmann said. “I’m definitely going to eat Tex-Mex until I’m sick of it before I go.”