I always planned to be a professor.
Throughout college and for many years after. I laid the groundwork to go back to school for a PhD in Italian literature.
Travel writing was meant to be a way to pay the bills legally while I was in Italian working on research for a dissertation.
There’s all sorts of odd things you have to also learn about to get a PhD, at least in Italian literature.
It wasn’t enough to speak fluent, academic-level Italian. I actually was going to need to pass proficiency tests in up to three other languages, from other romance languages to unrelated ones like German. Theoretically this was so we could read literary criticism on a global scale.
I also would have needed to read and be able to speak at length in an oral exam on every single significant work of Italian literature over a roughly 1,000 year period.