I survived my first week in Rome! It has been an exciting, adventurous, challenging, and tiring first week. I have had the chance to explore some of the city, however, there is still so much to see and do!
Top 10 tips for surviving the first week abroad:
1. I want to start off by providing a tip at the airport. You should make a friend. I met a girl in line while waiting to check my bag named Kaitlin. She was on my first flight to Toronto. She was not traveling to Rome with me, but it was still nice to go through the process together after waving goodbye to my Mom and sister. It was just nice not to be alone and be with someone who was going through the same process.
2. Next, I would suggest talking and connecting with your roommates over Facebook. Get to know them a little and make sure to compare flight itineraries. It just so happened that two of my three roommates and I were on the same flight from Toronto to Rome. This made arriving at the Rome airport that much easier. We were able to stick together and go to our apartment together.
3. Another tip would be to not 100% book a trip with people in your program until you get to your study abroad location. It is difficult to plan weekend trips via Facebook messages and easier to wait and talk to everyone in person once you are all in the same place.
4. Make sure to pack cold medicine. Most likely you will be getting sick the first week you are studying abroad due to lack of sleep, jetlag, travel, and being in a different place. I was fortunate enough that my roommate brought some I could take.
5. I would highly suggest getting to know your program coordinators. In Rome my SAI coordinators are Jess and Jordan and they have been very helpful with making my transition very smooth and comfortable. Whenever possible talk to them in group settings, ask questions, and be friendly.
6. It is important to remember that everyone is going through the same process. Most people in your program will have similar feelings as you-they just might not show it. It is normal to have mixed emotions through out the first week of study abroad and your whole experience as well!
7. Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Make sure you are doing what you want to do and not just following the crowd. If you do everything you will most likely get run down and be pushing yourself too hard. It is okay to rest and take a break for yourself. However, I will contradict myself and say it is also just as important to put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
8. Take advantage of every free opportunity there is! Sign up for free tours, lunch, and day excursions. They are fun, convenient, great way to meet people, and FREE. Do not be intimidated by these events they are there for you to have a great experience.
9. This tip is from my lovely Mother- keep your head on straight. It is necessary to remember that you are not in your home city let alone in your home country. You are a guest and this means you have to be respectful and follow your host country’s customs and rules. Be observant of what the locals do, try to blend in even though you stand out, try to speak some of the language, and be safe.
10. My final tip is to HAVE FUN. This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity so ENJOY.
Kelsey is a current student at Gustavus Adolphus College studying at John Cabot University in Italy during the Fall 2015 term.