I will be the first to admit, I am 100% that person who studied abroad and finds any and all opportunity to discuss it (I mean here I am writing a blog about it). Seriously, just ask my friends or siblings about the many study-abroad memes they send me because I talk about it that much.
Studying abroad was something I knew I needed to do during college and this past summer I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend six weeks in Rome, Italy. I enrolled in the program knowing just one other person, however, while abroad met some of the best people I know and still keep in touch with. Leaving the states for the first time to spend six weeks in a completely new place was terrifying, yet exhilarating all at the same time and I wouldn’t change my experience for anything. During my six weeks in Europe, I learned a number of tips and tricks on how to navigate an experience like this.
1. Just Do It
If you’re considering studying abroad even just the slightest ...DO IT! I promise you, you will not regret it, the only thing you will regret is not doing it. I know there are a lot of factors that go into making it possible such as cost and time, however, with a little work you can find so many scholarships to lower the cost. As for time frame, if you’re worried about being away for a full semester or even six weeks, Klein offers programs as short as one week, that way you still get the experience of studying elsewhere with the comfort of knowing you’ll be home before you know it. While applications for certain scholarships and programs have passed, it never hurts to go and talk to either Klein GO or the Study Abroad Office to learn more about the different options available!
2. Say Yes To As Much As You Can
The best way to enjoy your time is to make the most of it. While it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people, saying yes will open so many doors and introduce you to so many new people. On the first day of summer session at Temple Rome, we were split up into groups and given a tour of the campus (more so a tour of a building since the campus is just that) and the surrounding area. After the tour, a girl in the group invited me to check out the Pantheon and if I never said yes, I would’ve never met the people that I spent the next six weeks with and traveled everywhere with. (I made it a note to send my mom selfies with a peace sign in front of every major monument)
3. Buy That Plane Ticket (but make sure you can afford it…..and will have money afterward!)
Travel in Europe is cheap - at least when compared to travel in and from the States, so take full advantage of it! If you’re on the fence of traveling somewhere because it’s a place you never thought to travel to, GO! This happened to me when I visited Budapest. Originally, I wasn’t going to go, however, the night before the flight, I booked a ticket last minute and it might have been the best decision I ever made. Budapest was by far in my top two cities I visited while in Europe. Between the buildings, activities, food, and people, the city was absolutely beautiful and made for one of the many highlights of my travels.
4. Alone Time Can Be Rare
If you’re anything like me, you probably cherish your alone time no matter how much you enjoy being around your friends, alone time can be a rarity when studying abroad. I mean, you’re sharing a room with anywhere from two to six other people and chances are your classes might even overlap. It might seem near impossible to find “me time” and unwind, but just remember - you’re in a beautiful new place with so much to explore, take a walk to clear your head and have “me time” while also exploring your new home. You never know what you might find.
5. American Pasta is an Impasta (imposter...get it?)
Once you have pasta from Italy, it’s near impossible to go back to the boxed pasta you buy from the grocery store. The same goes for gelato and sometimes even wine (only if you’re 21+ of course). The food you’ll have will be some of the best food around and if you’re wondering if you should get gelato or a sweet for the second night in a row, the answer is always yes - after a day of walking anywhere between 5-15 miles, you deserve it.
Pro Tip: if you can, take a pasta-making class in Italy - I promise you it will be the best pasta, sauce, and bread you will ever have. I mean- look at that bowl of pasta made by yours truly.
This blog post was written by Allison Eckel, Director of Mentorship.