A single mom’s journey through university

Antonia is a single mother who managed almost entirely by herself and with very little resources to complete her university degree while mothering a little baby boy. This extraordinary young woman with a will-power stronger than rock gives below an outline of how she made it through university. Hopefully her experience can serve as inspiration for all single mothers out there.

Fall 2000 –  Spring 2001: My first year at an international Fashion design school

I moved to Florence with my sister (who also planned to study there), in order to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (or BFA). From the start it was clear to me that I wanted to do the full four-year program offered by the school, although I would have had the possibility to opt for a shorter degree (2 years, Associates degree).

According to the program, we had to spend every other year in Florence, Italy, and every other year in New York City, USA. So when I started my studies I already knew that it was going to involve a lot of moving and traveling for the next few years. But what I didn’t know was that by the end of my second semester in Italy, I would become pregnant.

I met Pedro already during the first week of my studies, but at first we were just friends. It wasn’t until well into the second semester that we started dating. As I found out I was pregnant I was very happy. I decided I would do my best and become the best mom I could ever be. But at the same time I already then knew that the next few years would become quite difficult, also because it was not clear whether Pedro could actually come with me to NYC.

Pedro indeed ended up needing to stay in Italy, and I left alone for NYC. I now understood I was going to have to go through this by myself. I would become a single mom, but I was determined to finish my degree: I would never have given up my studies no matter what.

Fall 2001 – spring 2002: life on Manhattan with a swelling belly

I pursued my studies with great enthusiasm while paying attention to my nutrition and the new curious changes in my body. Also, this was my first time in America, a time I will always remember also due to the horrific event of September 11 which happened right outside my doorsteps. Following the attack, the US restricted access to the country, minimizing further the possibilities of Pedro to come over.  Things suddenly felt tough. So I applied for a “leave of absence” and I got permission to take two whole semesters off (basically one year), as maternity leave. It was great!

2002: Home with my toddler

I had my little boy in Sweden, where my parents lived at the time. I stayed there for the whole year, which ended up being one of the best years in my life! We visited Pedro in Florence that summer, although it was clear to me (and I think to him), that our relationship was long over by now.

At this point, I had managed to finish three university semesters out of eight. Gosh, it felt like I was nowhere near the end of my studies yet! People around me were worrying and asking me not to return to NYC. I was advised to start working instead and to forget about my studies; but I wanted to continue. I think that this is, in fact, the only way to get things done in life: to be determined and to know exactly what you want!

Spring 2003: Off to NYC with my kid

I took my baby with me and off we went to NYC once more. Struggling to survive many times, but we made it (together!) that fourth semester also. So thanks to my own will, to some help from friends and to new acquaintances who could babysit, combined with the new motivation introduced into my life by my little boy, I managed to graduate and to receive my Associates degree.

Fall 2003 – Spring 2004: Life turns rough in Italy

My son and I moved to Italy to spend yet another year there. That year was one of the most difficult years of my life, I can tell you that much…Pedro was showing the worst side of his character, refusing to take responsibility, because according to him I was from a “rich” enough family to be able to sort things out myself. This, however, was a grave misconception from his side, but he refused to see the situation as it was, instead he withdrew in a sort of protecting self-pity. To make things worse, my flat mates proved unreliable and two of them turned out being drug dealers. Another flat mate left without paying her share of the rent so I had to pay her part also…On top of it, we had no central heating in our house, making it extremely cold. Despite all problems I needed to be firm and pursue my goal to finish university. During this time my son had a babysitter, Katarina, of whom he grew very fond. I could not afford to pay her very much and she slept in the same room as us, but she became almost like a family member to us. We both miss her very much!

Fall 2004 – Spring 2005: I become Bachelor of Fine Arts

One more year in NYC – the last spurt! This also proved to be a rough period, though. I remember certain weeks with living on only 5 dollars a day or less. You need to be creative during those times! My sister also came over and gave me a bit of a hand, and so did my mother. Despite all: I managed to graduate and I left NYC with my BFA in Fashion Design! I had made it :)!

Antonia is currently  webmaster of www.nutrition-facts-in-fruits-and-vegetables.com as well as two other websites. She would be happy if you would take a look at it!

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