Advice Based on Past Experiences
Of course there are a lot of things to see and do in Italy as a study abroad student, but for my program I have to try and choose all of those places and fit them into six weeks. It is difficult to fulfill my Italian bucket list in the short time that I am here, so I have had to miss out on a few cities and experiences. It is very challenging to make it to all of the most important and famous attractions in Italy and even Florence within these short six weeks. This blog will be dedicated to all of the things that I would do differently if I were to come into this program for a second time.
- I would make a more definite list of everything that I NEED to see in Florence first, and then cities and attractions in other cities or countries. Before I left home I made an unorganized list of places I would like to see in Florence, but I did not specify the places or buildings that I absolutely cannot miss out on. I regret not making a more specific list because the weekly planning process was more stressful than it needed to be. If I had a more structured list I would have been able to plan better and make plans based on cheaper train rides and days of the week, so I have had to spend more money due to this flaw in my planning ahead.
Rome was one of the cities on my must-see list, this is a picture I captured from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica Copula
2. I would think about the weather and cultural norms when packing and this is something I tried really hard to accomplish when I initially packed. I had researched what to bring for this trip, but there are some things that I did not learn until I was actually here in Italy noticing what is normal for people to wear. I think it is still great to read about the typical weather for whichever month you will be in a specific area because it gives you a good idea about the temperature and humidity, but there are always unexpected events such as storms and fog to remember. All of my roommates and I have had to buy a 5 euro umbrella from a random vendor because of a horrible and unexpected storm that happened when we were walking around Florence in class. I have had to buy other pairs of shoes to fit in with the cultural norms as well as compensating for the cobblestone roads.
3. I would take public transportation costs into account. Train rides, taxis, and bus rides have been a cost I never imagined would rack up as much as it has thus far. When I was planning for the costs of this study abroad program I focused on the costs of my plane tickets, food for the whole trip, and maybe some souvenirs, which is entirely my underestimation. However, I did come to Florence with enough money to get me through the program, but there are things that I can definitely not afford such as multiple weekend trips to other countries. Some of my classmates have gone to a different country every weekend, but that is not something I have been able to do because I did not consider it when I was saving for this trip. (Not that I even want to leave Italy in the first place). I was able to go to Paris for the weekend and that was amazing!
Two friends and I trekked to Paris for the weekend and got to see the tower sparkle!
Yes there are plenty of things that I would have done differently had I known how costly certain things would be either financially or in terms of time. I have learned from these experiences and I hope that these three points will help other students in the future as they are getting prepared to study abroad and spend a long period of time in another country. Now that I have all of these experiences I will be more than prepared for the next time I travel and visit other countries!