What is your favorite memory from studying abroad?
One of my favorite memories from studying abroad was when someone was having their rooftop worked on, and there was a giant window in our kitchen that looked out onto their roof. We would be in the kitchen eating breakfast and this guy working on the rooftop would always smile and wave to us as we stuffed our faces with food. He was there for like a week and I like to say that we got to know him fairly well!
On a more serious note… another favorite memory of mine is being able to see so much of the world that I had never seen before. There are so many beautiful things to be seen! Take a few pictures to capture the moment, but make sure you live in the moment – there is this stigmatic of “No photos = no proof you were there” sort-of-thing in this generation. But I hope you consider when you take photos and look back upon them that you ask yourself, “Was I really there?” So, I guess you could say one of my favorite memories abroad would be being able to truly live in the moment (it goes by fast so make it count!).
What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
One of the most crucial pieces of advice I can give about studying abroad is to make sure that you spend a weekend or two in your host country. For Italy, there is easy train access to all the different regions and each place you visit will be so different from the one you are staying in. I cannot stress this enough, as I met so many people who had wished they explored Italy more instead of traveling to another country every weekend. So… EXPLORE THE COUNTRY YOU CHOSE TO LIVE IN. You may even find that you are tired of traveling every weekend (I know this sounds unfathomable, but it happens to the best of us trust me), so don’t feel pressure to book trips for every weekend in advance even if other study abroad students are doing so.
What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
If this is your first time outside of the country, don’t worry! It was my first time outside of the country as well, and if I survived, you can too! As bad at directions as I am, I made it to all the right places – Shout out to the CityMaps2Go app, which lets you download a free map of your host city (Google maps doesn’t always work!). A map may seem old fashioned, but it allows you to learn street names and your way around your host city faster than if you were to use a GPS. Paper maps are useful, but don’t really allow you to blend in, so I recommend downloading one onto your phone.
Another tip that I have for traveling and being abroad is to try and take classes Monday – Thursday. I found that a lot of students didn’t schedule classes on Friday, and unless there is a class you really want to take on Friday (which was my case), I would follow this schedule because most company led trips (Bus2alps, Smart Trip, Euro adventures, etc.) all leave on Thursday night or early Friday morning. If you are afraid of missing out on some of these company led trips, it is important to know this information. Of course, you don’t even have to go through these companies – planning your own trip works as well and is just as, if not, even more fun!
Danielle was a fall 2018 Florence student from Muhlenberg College.