Anxiety Abroad

The gargoyle of Notre-Dame contemplates Paris. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)
Anxiety Abroad
by Stephanie Villavicencio, FIU Honors College

July 2016

I lived thousands of miles from home for a month and though my anxiety assumed otherwise, I survived!

I’m in the middle of lunch, sitting across from my mother and I’m trying to hide the tears. I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m afraid. I leave to Europe for a month in the morning and I can’t do it. I paid an exorbitant amount to participate in a study abroad program and I’m convinced that I just can’t. What if I forget my passport? Or lose my luggage? What if something terrible happens and I never get to see my family again and — Panic attack. This is what I’m most afraid of. My anxiety holding me back, keeping me from living the life I want to live but am too afraid to.

So I packed up my fears, got on a plane, and flew to France.

Stephanie and her France 2016 class of FIU Honors in Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Museum days were some of the hardest because crowded places are the bane of my existence. A crowded room may as well be a giant panic button to my brain, but I made myself focus on the lectures and the history behind each work of art, instead, each brushstroke, every color.


The hardest day had to be the one when I hiked in the French Alps. After a long uphill drive and a huge, beautiful lunch we started our trek. Not being in top physical shape, I was nervous I’d get lost, left behind, or just fall off the side of the mountain. So on the way up, when I start to lose my breath, I’m reminded of the fun fact that air is thinner and breathing is harder while one is on a mountain. Overthinking. The beginnings of anxiety. In my frenzied state, I try to calm myself down with a sip from my water bottle and end up spilling half. Cue panic attack. Now I’m going to die of lack of oxygen and dehydration. As certain as I am that this is my final resting place, that here, among the cows, is where I will die, somehow, I make it to the top. By some divine miracle I reach the top red in the face, short of breath, exhausted, sweaty. The top.Later in the month we took a day trip to the site of the World War II landings in Normandy, a region whose history was rife with violence and tragedy. We visited various battle sites and after a day filled with tellings of sacrifice, death and destruction, I was physically and emotionally spent, trapped with my thoughts in my own head, contemplating life, death, and who deserved which. We ended that day at Normandy Cemetery on Omaha beach, also referred to as Bloody Omaha for the sheer number of lives lost on its shores. Climbing down to the actual beach as a class was surreal, knowing that lovers and families were potentially sunbathing in the very spot a soldier breathed his last. It was surreal and simultaneously beautiful; knowing that people were free to do so thanks to the selfless sacrifice of another. So though I, personally, am not entirely confident in my appearance and never would have thought I’d be one to do so; though we had no swimsuits or towels or any previous intention of doing so, we all stripped down to our underwear and celebrated that freedom. And while that day saw me constantly tormented by my own thoughts, that moment my skin met the freezing ocean, all the weight was swept off and away with the current and I was joyful and alive and free.

Now, a month since I’ve been stateside, I look back on the girl crying in Nordstrom Cafe, and while she’s the same person with the same fears and anxieties, she knows now that she has the strength to overcome them. Living with anxiety is never as simple as “getting over it” and deciding not to let it bother you, and this trip helped me realize that coping with anxiety is about acknowledging your fears and limitations, while refusing to let them define you.

Check out John W Bailly’s study abroad programs
France Study Abroad
Italy Study Abroad
Spain Study Abroad


FIU Students in France

FIU France 2017 in the Foret de Fontainebleau. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


Miami-Florida Jean Monnet Center of Excellence at FIU
Tuesday, 31 October, 2017, 14:00-16:00
Florida International University, GL 220
Free and open to the public

What do FIU students do in France? How long are they there for? How do they get there? Is French food really that good? This panel discussion will focus on FIU students experiences in France. The students speak about their perception prior to the trip and the reality they encountered while in France. The students visited Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Normandy, and the Alps.

Students Leo Carbajo and Natalie Brunelle of the FIU Honors College‘s program “France Study Abroad: Art, War, & Human Rights” will share their personal experiences. Laura Boudon, Director of the FIU Office of Study Abroad and John William Bailly, Professor of “Art, War, and Human Rights” will also present.

Guest of Honor: Hon. Clément Leclerc, Consul General of France in Miami

John William Bailly & Stephanie Sepúlveda 30 October 2017

Poetry Art Community at Vizcaya

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

Vizcaya through Poetry and Photography
Join us as we celebrate Vizcaya through poetry and art with the FIU Honors College course “Poetry Art Community” designed by Professors Richard Blanco and John William Bailly.  The evening features Blanco and renowned poets Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich debuting their original Vizcaya-inspired poems in the main courtyard. Their voices will be accompanied by photographs of Vizcaya by FIU students. The enchantment continues with pop-up poetry readings by students throughout the gardens as you stroll under the stars and the crescent moon.  Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
MIAMI, FL 33129

November 14, 2017 7:00-9:30 p.m.
Vizcaya Courtyard 7:00pm – 8:00pm readings by Richard Blanco, Caridad Moro, Carlos Pintado, Nikki Moustaki, and Michael Hettich
8:00pm – 9:00pm readings by FIU students in the Gardens
Tickets $5. Light refreshments available for purchase.


FIU 2018 Study Abroad
Brianna Rawls and Lauren Lopez of FIU hike in Segovia. (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)


03:30 – 04:45
SIPA 125

Professor John William Bailly‘s Florida International University study abroad programs merge education and adventure. Engage the history and culture of France, Italy, or Spain in a unique, immerisve, and experiential manner.

These FIU Office of Study Abroad programs will see you hike in the Alps while retracing the steps of the French Resistance. Bike Rome’s greatest road, the Appia Antica. Wander the medieval streets of Toledo. Markets, towers, museums – a class without a classroom.

All FIU Honors College students are encouraged to attend.

Check out the program galleries
France Study Abroad Info & Gallery
Italy Study Abroad Info and Gallery
Spain Study Abroad Info & Gallery

Cost and registration details are on the FIU Honors College website.

John W Bailly at LnS Gallery

John W Bailly’s oil paintings at LnS Gallery In Miami
John Bailly, Jennifer Basile,
Tim Buwalda, Jessie Laino,
Gabriela Noelle, William Osorio,
Cesar Trasobares,
Trek6, Tony Vazquez-Figueroa,
and other gifted creators.
LnS is a new art space specializing in contemporary art with a focus on Miami-based artists. Named after the gallerist team of LUISA LIGNAROLO and SERGIO CERNUDA, partners in marriage and business, the space is anchored in a spirit of inclusive creativity attuned to the cultural pulse of South Florida.
Located in North Coconut Grove, within walking distance from the Coconut Grove Metrorail Station, the 5000-square foot, multi-room space will provide a showcase for unique forms of expression through curated, comprehensive catalogued exhibitions, site-installations and cultural gatherings. Special events will feature lectures, artists’ talks and educational programs for the various audiences in South Florida.
The gallery and its team of specialists offer assistance in framing, conservation, display and art transportation services. In addition to expertise in secondary markets and established relationships with auction networks, Luisa and Sergio specialize in personalized art advisement, appraisals, and market analysis for individuals and businesses.
TuesdayFriday 11:00am-6:00pm
Saturday 12noon-5:00pm
Sunday and Monday by appointment

FIU Study Abroad 2018

Melissa Gil of FIU on the Rialto Bridge in May 2017 (Photo by JW Bailly CC BY 4.0)

The 2018 FIU Study Abroad programs led by Professor John William Bailly are now open for registration. Bailly leads students on summer cultural immersion programs in France, Italy and Spain. 2018 will be the ninth year Bailly takes students from Miami to Europe.

Registration details can be found on the FIU Honors College website.

France Study Abroad 2018
Italy Study Abroad 2018
Spain Study Abroad 2018

See photos from everyday of the 2017 study abroad programs by searching #fiustudyabroad2017 on Instagram.

Blanco and Bailly Collaborate on “Poetry, Art, & Community”

Blanco & Bailly
Richard Blanco & John William Bailly at CVC in Miami

By Stephanie Sepulveda, 20 August, 2017

Poet Richard Blanco and artist John William Bailly have once again embarked on a collaborative journey, this time creating a new course, “Poetry, Art, & Community.” The seminar explores the living dialogue between community and the literary and visual arts, as well as the civic role they can (or ought to) play in the public realm with respect to matters that affect us collectively. The course is offered in the Honors College at Florida International University.

In an article on FIU News, Blanco describes his objectives in returning to the classroom:

“At critical times, we turn to poetry to find language for what we can’t understand about what’s going on or what we feel,” Blanco said. “That’s why I developed these courses, to bring to the forefront the scrutiny and wisdom of poetry as it relates to this critical juncture in our nation’s divide.”

“Every time I read a great poem or I sit down to write one, I discover something new about myself, the world and my relationship to it,” Blanco said. “And, so, I hope the same happens for them through the poetry we’ll read, discuss and feel. I want them to know poetry belongs to them because it is about them.”

An integral component of the course will be community events of art and poetry. After several years of successful partnership with Vizcaya and Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), FIU is expanding to include O, Miami to present a series salon events of art and poetry. The salons will kick off at Vizcaya on November 14 and an evening at PAMM in April 2018.

This is not the first collaboration between Blanco and Bailly. In 2006, the pair created the series Place of Mind, an exhibition that travelled throughout the US. Carlos Suarez de Jesus of the Miami New Times wrote, [Place of Mind] “features prints, paintings, and book art Bailly created in dialogue with Blanco’s poems. The gang of two has spun what might be read as dynamic visual diaries by engaging in a conversational collaborative process, which allowed the raw intensity of their personal dramas and musings on history to flow.”

When asked about collaborating with Blanco in this new capacity, Bailly said, “Richard’s voice as a poet transforms the personal into the universal. That is the magic, he captures the essence of who we are, our dreams and our failures. His guidance as a professor will reveal through reflection the cultural and humanistic beauty and tragedy of Miami.”

Below is the full course description:

The “Poetry, Art, and Community” seminar explores the living dialogue between community and the literary and visual arts, and the civic role they can (ought to) play in the public realm with respect to matters that affect us collectively: gender, sexuality, class, diversity, and race. Through service learning projects and exploration of local cultural landmarks and institutions, students will investigate/experience the relationships between community and the arts through the lens of their own creativity. Serving as cultural co-agents of change, they will collaborate with accomplished poets and artists to produce, curate, and host a public literary and arts salon that will feature poetry readings, visual art, and videography centered on the themes surveyed throughout the course.