I’ve officially arrived in Florence, Italy where I’ll be staying for the rest of 2017! Before I reflect on my adventures so far, I wanted to clarify what I’ll be doing here and what motivated my decision to pick Italy in the first place.
From September 4th (Labor Day) until December 16th, I’ll be taking five courses that I am not only interested in, but will also fill graduation requirements-
Public Speaking (performing arts credit)
The Holocaust (Italian perspective- fills History major elective requirement)
War and Media (communications style class, fills History major elective requirement)
Basic Italian (elective, but required for the program)
Mediterranean Cuisine (elective, but when in Italy…)
I’ll be doing a program with other students from the United States who I will have the opportunity to take classes, become friends and explore Italy with. I’ll meet them all tomorrow, but classes don’t begin until September 4th.
If I had to give another student getting ready to study abroad tips for the initial transition to their host country, I would start with these three-
Nobody prepares you for the number of goodbyes you’ll say before you leave. If you’re lucky, your final week at home will be filled with “see you soons” and tearful friends and relatives. However, I realized that although it doesn’t feel good to leave, leaving means that a new era in each of those relationships is beginning. With my sister moving into college for her freshman year, this was especially apparent. We talked about how the goodbyes can be hard because you know that time will cause you both to change a bit. My advice for goodbyes would be to let yourself be scared or nervous, but to intentionally focus on the excitement.
Along the same line as goodbyes, I would also recommend preparing yourself for the number of emotions you’ll feel as you walk through the airport and say your final goodbyes. My friend that began her study abroad experience a week earlier in Amsterdam prepared me for this after she left. It’s so true though, I was excited to experience new things, sad to leave people I love, nervous to tackle those new things and slightly guilty for disrupting traditions and plans that would have happened if I had stayed. Being okay with the contradictory emotions and letting tears fall or doubts be verbalized was important for me.
If you can, try to connect with someone who has studied abroad before or someone that is studying abroad during the same time you are. Although countries may vary and individual experiences vary, a lot of the emotions are consistent and common. I’ve found a lot of comfort in admitting my nerves or expressing my excitement to friends of mine that are studying abroad as well. Even listening to other people’s experiences studying abroad is valuable, I have really enjoyed realizing how passionate people become about their travels- I’m sure I will be the same way!
More tips to come later!