What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
Oh wow, where do I begin!? My most important tip would be to take advantage of every opportunity that comes by. Say yes to everything and spend time exploring your home city with not only your friends, but also by yourself. Take the time to have the conversations with locals and spend as much time as you can traveling to different destinations.
As far as smaller suggestions go, I would recommend not over packing, because you will probably buy a lot of new clothing while you’re abroad. I would also recommend cooking most of your meals at home, so that you can have extra cash for dining and other activities when you’re away traveling on the weekends. Also, always have extra euros (coins) with you for public restrooms and water when you’re out and about, too.
What did you learn about your host country that surprised you?
So many different things about Italy surprised me. I had an idea of Italy that was influenced by the Italian Americans in the states, when in reality, authentic Italian tradition has many differences. They don’t cut your pizza for you and if you ask for a caesar salad, the waiter will look at you very confused.
I also knew that much of the world speaks English, but I was shocked by the sheer amount of Italians who can speak English fluently (along with the rest of Europe.) No matter which country you decide to choose, you will come across many pleasant – and a few unpleasant surprises!
What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
This definitely isn’t my favorite memory, but I will absolutely remember it forever. When my roommate and I were coming home from a weekend in Prague, we both got a nasty case of food poisoning. Every time the plane jolted in the air, we had to reach for the bags in front of the seats! The entire situation was torturous, but also extremely funny. The next weekend, we missed our flight home from Amsterdam, so don’t expect all your travels to always go smoothly! When things go wrong, make an adventure and a story out of it.
Palma was a spring 2019 Florence student from Washington State University.