Night had fallen in Milan, and a sudden shower soaked the streets below. The thin raindrops could only be seen when reflected against the yellow light of the streetlamps, but anyone caught outside without an umbrella or raincoat was still drenched.
Amongst the luckless few were myself and the woman who would become my first girlfriend — we were in the city on a weekend trip while studying abroad in Spain. We were not prepared for the weather — she was even wearing open-toed shoes. As the raindrops fell, we were looking for a restaurant we saw on Yelp.
We were together in the city by accident — the trip was supposed to be for her and her friend, but the friend couldn’t get a visa in time. On the spur of the moment, I bought the spare plane ticket off of her.
Though I planned very little for the trip and barely knew the girl — and Italian even less — Milan became a life-defining moment for me.
Studying abroad in Spain taught me that stepping out of my comfort zone and living in the moment can lead to new experiences. Some of my most cherished college memories were the result of spontaneous decisions.
Introverted students like me often stick with the familiar parts of the College community, but I got so much more by just forgetting my fears and diving head first into new things. Two years after Milan and Spain, that dive is still making ripples.
As the weather worsened, we splashed through puddles looking for cover. The strap on her sandal snapped in the process and all we could do was laugh. Her hair was matted and her face glistened.
We abandoned all hope of reaching that restaurant, which at that point was a few blocks away, and went into the next restaurant we saw. The place was small, but crowded and brightly lit.
We looked like a mess under the white lights having just stepped in from the rain. We shared jokes and stories over a delicious plate of pasta alla norma cooked al dente, a ham pizza and glasses of the house wine.
She still insists it was not a date.
We didn’t become official until after we returned to the United States.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve been stepping further outside my comfort zone. I got more involved with The Signal and took up an internship for Courier News and Home News Tribune. If you’re shy like I am, trying new things and meeting new people can be terrifying, but in the long run, I promise it will be rewarding.
And yes, we’re still dating.