Before You Spread Your Wings…

In Florence, The Art of Travel Fall 2015, Tips by Akemi Aiello

So you’re thinking about studying abroad? You wanna get a slice of life on a grand scale and embark on new adventures? Then go forth my friend, but let me give you some words of wisdom.

Now I don’t want to put a rain on your parade but we gotta be responsible. Pick a place where you can take classes that will benefit you. Pick a location that’ll cross off some G.E.s or fulfill your major, or just really interest you and will help you grow as a person. For me I felt held back in the course selections here except for my literature class that doesn’t fulfill much academically, but it’s made me so happy and more thoughtful that it’s totally worth it. But still, now I have a lot to get done and check off back in New York.

I know you want to study abroad and see new places and your first instinct may be to study some place new, but don’t feel obligated to. If you’re traveling a lot its nice to feel like you’re coming “home” to someplace and familiarity helps satisfy that. Also knowing a place can help your daily life while you’re actually studying be easier and honestly you might want that because school can be overwhelming when you’re in a new country every weekend.

If you are a minority, please take that into consideration when you’re looking where to study. No one told me that I was going to experience racism and to the severity that I have while being in Italy. Even if it is a cultural thing and they truly just don’t know any better, it can get scary sometimes and you shouldn’t have to feel that way.

After you’ve gotten all that figured out and you’re ready to go! When you pack look up what items are more expensive to buy wherever you’re studying in comparison to America. In Florence shampoos, conditioners, and the like were significantly more pricey. But even if you bring those sort of items with you, don’t think you have to furnish wherever you’re staying. Leave your desk organizers, hangers, and what not back home. You have a whole semester to pack for and you don’t want to waste space and weight with nonsense. I’d suggest bringing one bag and a duffle bag to fill up later because you will buy a lot of things, seriously. Also if you’re thinking about taking up space with workout clothes, you don’t really need to bring it, you’re not gonna be working out. But if you do, it’s not gonna be often enough to stress about bringing a wardrobe of it.

When you get to wherever you are, give it time. Culture shock is real and being confused is stressful but it’ll get better. Plan your weekend vacays in advanced to save money and really see the world (or a good portion of it). Traveling alone isn’t terrible and it could actually be a better experience. Do what anything and everything you can because this is a break from life and you don’t know when you’ll get another one.

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