Before leaving to study abroad in Rome, I remember talking to my friend who had studied abroad a year before me. She told me that it would be, without a doubt, the best time of my life. I am so excited for anyone that has made the choice to study abroad. Here are some tips to make your experience the best it can be.
1. Learn a little about your new city before getting there. It’s helpful to know some of the culture and customs so you’re not completely in the dark.
2. Make an attempt to learn the language. Store owners will be very impressed if you can order your gelato or ask about a souvenir in the language – and they might even give you a discount for it.
3. Decide how you will get money and use your cell phone ahead of time. Get a credit card and an ATM card with no fees and figure out how you are going to have cell service before you leave.
4. Plan your trips in advance. The earlier you plan, the cheaper flights and hotels will be.
5. Find the balance between traveling and getting to know your city. You’re in Europe, so you should go to different cities. But don’t leave your home city without going to most of the major sights first.
6. If you have some free time, go explore. Some of my favorite places in Rome have been ones that I have found when walking around after school.
7. Don’t be afraid to try new food. Food is a big part of the culture, so try new things even if they sound a little weird.
8. Accept that traveling won’t always go as planned. You’ll probably forget a few things or miss a train, but just go with it.
9. Get out of your comfort zone. Try new things, and do something memorable, like I did went I went paragliding.
10. Make new friends. You shared a life-changing experience together. It might be hard to explain to other people back home about your experience, but you will always be able to talk to your friends you made.
As my time studying abroad is coming to a close, I can certainly agree with my friend, that the past four months have absolutely been the best time of my life. If you take these tips into consideration while studying abroad, you will have the best time of your life too.
– Hannah was a spring 2017 SAI Rome student from Baylor University.