Top 10 Things I Wish I Had Known
Devin, SAI Ambassador
October 24, 2014

Devin Reuben - Student Ambassador

Devin Reuben, Fall 2013, Florence

  1. Maps work wonders – When in an unfamiliar city, it is always a good idea to have a map handy. I can’t tell you how much I underestimated maps before going abroad- I mean Google maps is pretty much my best friend. Yet when you’re in an international country with no Wifi, going old school with maps is your best bet to getting to your destination. If you don’t have a map handy, the locals are usually very helpful and are ready to lend a hand to show you where to go.
  2. No need to overpack clothes – It may seem necessary to pack most of your closet when studying in another country for at least four months. Trust me, you will most likely not wear everything you bring. When you are on a suitcase weight limit, packing the bare necessities is key. Plus you want to make sure you have enough space in your suitcase for souvenirs and new clothes when coming home!
  3. Getting lost doesn’t always have to be a bad thing – Sounds crazy right? But sometimes the most memorable places are the ones you stumble upon. Hidden alleyways, unique cafes, and local restaurants are just a few of the great things you can discover! Get off the beaten path at least once a week and find a new place, it’s worth it!
  4. Bring a weekend bag – Most of the weekends abroad are dedicated for travel. You’re probably travelling with big suitcases to get to your abroad destination, but do you really want to lug that huge thing around for a three day trip? Make sure to pack a duffel bag or decent sized backpack for these occasions!
  5. Get ready for little sleep – Between the exploring, traveling, and night life, it may be difficult to remember to get some shut eye. You will most likely get less sleep than you do in America, so make sure to take advantage of those siestas to catch up!
  6. Water is not free – In America, water is one of the cheapest things you can get. In most European countries, the wine is cheaper than water! To avoid spending extra cash on water bottles, pack a Brita water bottle to fill up and stay hydrated.
  7. Prepare to be at restaurants for a long time – In many European countries (especially Italy) the locals go to restaurants to socialize and relax. This means that the waiters are not going to bring your check as soon as you’re done eating. If you’re in a rush or not ready to stay in a restaurants for a few hours be sure to ask your waiter for the check when you’re ready to go !
  8. Europe has normal cleaning and personal products – If you are one of those people who needs your brand of shampoo or dish soap, European countries carry many of the same (or similar) products. So don’t waste space in your suitcase packing things you can easily buy here! You’ll thank me later, trust me.
  9. Check into Ryanair before getting to the airport – If you are trying to avoid paying a massive charge, check in and print your tickets for Ryanair before a flight. Nothing is worse than having to run back and forth between departure windows (and pay a lot of euros!!!) because you didn’t check in the night before. So keep calm, plan ahead, and don’t forget to check in before a flight.
  10. Don’t stress and love every minute of it – It goes by fast so don’t take anything for granted! Complete your abroad bucket list (you have four months to do it!) and don’t regret anything. I guarantee it will be the best time of your life no matter which country you decide to study in!

Devin studied abroad in Florence during the Fall 2013 term. She is now an SAI Programs Student Ambassador

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