What are the three most important lessons you brought home from abroad?
- It may be scary but leave your comfort zone every once in a while, you will be better for it
- The world is full of beauty, from architecture to languages, from food to people: step back and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you.
- Things will not always go as planned and that is okay!
Describe the moment when you felt most out of place while you were studying abroad and tell us how you managed the situation.
There were a few times when I was somewhat hyperaware of my role as an American in a foreign country. Particularly I recall a time when I was buying postcards and stamps to send home. I attempted to ask for the stamps in Italian, however, the clerk replied to my request in English, asking where in America I was from. Although this seems like a minor interaction and likely a normal one, it made me that much more motivated to improve on my Italian and practice Italian customs. When people visit America, it is rare that a clerk or a waitress will automatically speak in the visitor’s native language to make them comfortable. On the other hand, when Americans visit other countries it is assumed that everyone will speak English. I think it is extremely important to try to adapt to where you are and be respectful of the country that you are visiting’s culture and language. People will appreciate the effort!
What are three things you wished you’d know before studying abroad?
- I wish I had known how easy it is to fall into habits, such as hanging with only fellow-study abroad students. Had I known how much of this I would have done, maybe I would have been proactive in expanding my horizons and meeting more locals.
- I wish I had thought about how the cobblestones would ruin my shoes! I went abroad wanting to be as fashionable as the Italians, however, I ended up throwing out a few pairs of shoes that fell victim to the ancient Roman streets! Pack practically!
- I wish I had budgeted more. It’s impossible to know exactly how much you will spend abroad: things happen, sometimes there are unpredicted expenses; although, I did bare minimum budgeting and my bank account definitely took some blows. Some of my roommates, on the other hand, had budgeted for all known expenses plus some emergency funds, travel budget, and a general food budget. You don’t have to go wild with this, but I highly recommend some basic budgeting before leaving on this journey.