The couple days before I left for Rome I frantically started asking friends who had studied abroad what to expect. My dear friend Lexi gave me two tips of advice that have been extremely helpful. The first was to buy rain boots when I got to Italy because if you pack them they take up too much room in your suitcase, but you will DEFINITELY want them. The second was how to order a cappuccino, something that I’m very thankful to know how to do!
With all the advice that I had gathered, I packed my bags and left for Rome, the place I would call home for the next four and a half months. Now that I have lived here for almost a month and a half, I have developed some advice of my own.
1. Do not underestimate the fact that it does get cold in Rome. My home college is in Green Bay, Wisconsin and last winter it was -45 with the wind chill for at least a week straight. I looked at the weather in Italy and decided to leave all of my sweaters and warmer clothes at home. However, on rainy and cloudy days in January and February I wished I had those sweaters with me. It does get cold here, so be prepared for that.
2. Another piece of advice, which you will hear over and over again is to bring comfortable shoes! You walk all the time in Rome and comfortable shoes are a must have.
3. Moving away from attire, there is another major thing to discuss and that is the fact that you will be living in a whole different country, going to a different school and meeting different people. There are going to be days where this feels amazing. The culture around you will make you feel alive, and you will feel a sense of adventure with every activity you do. But it isn’t always glamorous. There will be days where you miss your professors from your college, or your family and friends or just the familiarity of your life at home. Dealing with this change is not always easy, but it is worth every second of it. It is important that you find your way of dealing with culture shock. I have found that what I miss most from home is being a part of all of the communities I am a part of. However, I have started going to an English speaking church and have met some very sweet people. Now I see familiar faces every Sunday and their smiles and welcoming voices have begun to feel like home.
4. The most important advice that I can give is to not just “study abroad” but to really live abroad. Become part of a new community, explore the world around you, and be spontaneous. Appreciate every precious moment in this beautiful new place. Amidst discovering the world around you, you may just discover things about yourself that you never knew.
Jasmyn is a current student at St. Norbert College studying at John Cabot University in Italy during the Sprig 2015 term.