How To: Survive Your First Week Abroad
Megan, Sorrento, Summer 2019
August 24, 2019

Your first week studying abroad in a new country will look a little something like this: you hop off the plane exhausted but the adrenaline of it finally being the day you arrive in your host country keeps you going. You meet so many different people the first couple of days that you can only remember the names of your new roommates. You keep going and going and going and finally by the end of the first week you are ready to crash. But luckily for you, I am living proof that it is possible to survive your first week abroad, even though it may seem very daunting during the weeks leading up to arrival day.

Definitely take the time to explore neighboring towns! This photo was taken in beautiful Positano, just a 40 minute bus ride from my home base in Sorrento.

It’s perfectly okay to spend most of your free time in the first week exploring your new home and hanging out with the people who you will probably be very close to by the end of this journey. Enjoy the amazing food and views, but don’t forget you have WEEKS to also do this. Don’t feel pressured to travel and do everything right when you arrive. Take a day at the end of the first week to just relax and decompress. I cannot stress the importance of chill time enough during studying abroad. Even if it’s just sleeping in and going to the beach for the afternoon, like I did. It’s a major stress reliever.

This may seem contradictory to what I just said about the importance of relaxing, but I 100% recommend having your weekend trips planned out by the end of the first week. It will end up being a lot cheaper and easier to book plane, train, or bus tickets as well as housing in the different cities you want to travel to. Find the people you want to travel with, book the tickets, and when the weekend comes, just GO.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the trips and activities your school and program has for you! I was able to hike Mt. Vesuvius with my volcanology class!

Another thing I highly recommend is daily FaceTiming with your family back home. Find a convenient time (be wary of time zone differences) and take a few minutes to reconnect with your parents or your friends. Talk about your day, what you did, what you ate, how you are feeling. It will really help with the homesickness feeling, which everyone goes through at some point.

This is the view from my balcony of the apartment I share with two other girls. The walk to our school is about 20 minutes but totally worth what we get to look at every day. We overlook the bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius and it never gets old!

The bottom line is that while it may be difficult to adjust to a new culture, it will be worth it. Take your time learning it to really immerse yourself. Don’t rush into things. It’s kind of like going off to college. You are without your family in a new location, just learning how to live that life for a period of time. Everyone can survive their first week abroad, even though it may seem scary, you can do it!

Megan was a summer 2019 Sorrento student from Penn State.

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.