For those of you just starting the adventure of your life, and those of you currently settling in abroad, this is for you.
I was in your shoes one year ago today, and I could not handle the anticipation for what was to come. I shortly learned that not everyone’s abroad experience is the same, and that is okay. My first piece of advice is to make your abroad experience your own, however you interpret that. This is a chance of a life time, and no matter if you have been awaiting this moment forever, or if you made a last minute decision to study abroad, you will learn more about yourself than you knew possible.
You will find more kindness, compassion, and beauty on every corner of this earth. People truly are amazing. Take a moment to talk to locals in your neighborhood café. Get to know the owners of your local market. And try to speak their language. You will be amazed at what you learn.
Take in every second, because it will be over before you know it. Take the long way to class, watch the sunset as often as you can, take yourself out to a nice meal, go to museums, and look up. The more you walk around and get lost, the more comfortable you will get. Try something out of your comfort zone. Take day trips. Learn about what you walk by every day. Have a glass of wine with lunch. Smile. Meet new people. Everyone is here for the chance of a lifetime; you are not alone.
And lastly, your journey is going to be different than others, so cherish it. Don’t compare yours to the people around you. Travel as much or as little as you want. Make this experience what you wanted. As you look at the months ahead, it seems like an eternity. But it goes by faster than anyone would hope. So with that, take in every second. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Allie was a spring 2017 SAI Florence student from Washington State University.