My time is Florence has come to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was stepping off the plane to be greeted by the wonderful SAI staff. These past few months have flown by but they were filled with wonderful memories that I will cherish forever.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world you’re living in. You get put into situations you haven’t experienced before. But don’t worry- you come out smarter and have a higher level of confidence afterwards. Plus, afterwards they make for some pretty good stories.
In the post I’m going to share a few tibits of information and advice that I have gathered while abroad that I believe are helpful.
Traveling by train is an excellent way to get around. They have outlets so you can charge your phone while riding, you get to see the beautiful countryside and sometimes the seaside, and you aren’t confined as much as a plane ride. Sometimes your travel plans go off the rail, and you miss your train. But don’t fret! Trenitalia lets you ride along the same route for FOUR HOURS after the time of your original train. So if you get off on the wrong station, don’t go buy a new ticket, just get on the next train and continue on.
A Quality Umbrella
I had a quality raincoat that I brought with me for the semester. I thought that it would be good enough for any rain that I encountered. But in my opinion the rain overseas was different. I noticed that the locals, no matter where I went, always used umbrellas whenever it was raining. I was fortunate enough to discover a small stockpile of umbrellas in my apartment so that when it rained I had a few on hand to use. And there was a difference and made exploring the cities in less than pleasant weather more enjoyable.
Step Back and Unplug
You’re going to be living in some of the most beautiful places on earth. Your Instagram account is about to get a major redesign. Don’t get preoccupied trying to get the perfect shot. Don’t spend time worrying about how many people see your Snapchat story. Put your phone down; leave your camera in your backpack. Really enjoy what is in front of you. You’ll miss some of the most wonderful moments of your time abroad if you’re too busy trying to document things for later. I’m not saying don’t take photos and videos, I’m just saying evaluate how you’re actually taking in what you are experiencing. Pictures are worth a thousand words but your memories are what you’ll cherish forever.
Make It Mean Something
You are only in your host country for 16 weeks if you do a semester abroad. That may seem like a long time, but trust me, it goes by faster than you would ever want it to. You don’t want to look back and realize you spent your nights inside watching Netflix. Go out and explore, take the side streets, try those restaurants that you walk pass on the way to class. You’re in a new place without anyone you know and that’s scary. You don’t want to let that hold you back from experiencing new and exciting things. Say yes. Say yes to going for a walk, say yes to the gelato, say yes to hanging out with new people. But most importantly, say yes to opening up yourself to a new side.
Cherish your time abroad, because before you know it you’ll be back home. You won’t be walking your neighborhood streets, passing your favorite gelato shop or sitting along the river. You’ll be back with your family reminiscing about the wonderful time away and how all the little towns stole your heart.
Gabriella is a spring 2019 SAI Florence student from Saint Mary’s College of California.