What to Expect Before the Big “Take Off”
Megan, SAI Ambassador, 2019
June 27, 2019

What I have learned about myself abroad and how I have changed:

I have always loved to be outside of my comfort zone. I get a thrill of being uncomfortable and meeting new people. I have traveled independently in the past but I must say, none of my prior experiences compare to actually living in a new country. After my semester abroad I noticed a growth in independence and confidence. Two things I lack most in quickly became my strengths. I no longer need a companion by my side and I am capable of doing everything by myself and not only that, but I am content in doing so. I have also discovered little things about myself like certain likes and dislikes or what I look for in a city or even in a friend.

Enjoying the Keukenhof Tulip Gardens in Amsterdam

Travel tips for abroad students:

-Only pack what you know you’ll need (better to under pack than over)

-Download the app ‘Get your Guide’

-Take picture/videos of the little things

-(If you can) Make one big purchase on something in your host city

-Find the authentic places to eat

-Hang out with locals

Venetian Gondoliers: working hard or hardly working?

Advice for abroad students (you’re welcome):

-Look up the history of the cities you visit before visiting them

-Make a list of the places you want to go before you leave so you know where you really want to go

-learn the language as best you can and listen to local music

-Even if you barely know the language, challenge yourself to speak it anyway, locals will respect you more

-Do not stress out about missing trains/planes etc. there is always another one and you will get to where you need to be eventually. Its all a part of the experience

-Do not take a day for granted but know that it is okay to have a lazy day because you LIVE there

The beautiful blues of Interlaken Switzerland

What my experience has taught me about the world:

I am a better person for leaving the country. I got out of my normal bubble and realized how small I am in the world. There are so many people and places we really are oblivious to it until we are immersed into something new. I have discovered that I am passionate about culture and seeing people in their element. I love to see things in a different perspective in every country I visit.

My favorite view of Florence: The Ponte Vecchio

What felt the most “foreign” to me when I came back to the US:

The strangest thing I had to adjust to after coming home was getting used to everyone around me speaking English. It was crazy! I could understand everyone around me and eavesdrop on conversations again! It was also hard to be back with my friends who did not go abroad. Trust me, when you get back home, all you’re going to want to do is tell your stories to everyone you make eye contact with, but trust me, no one will understand why these stories are so meaningful to you and you will not get the reaction you were hoping for. That was a hard adjustment but you realize quickly after being back in the states that no one cares about your experience as much as you. (Harsh but true)!

Lunch in Santorini Greece

Megan was a Spring 2019 Florence student from Point Loma Nazarene University.

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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.