Surviving (and Thriving!!!) during your first 24 hours!

Before jumping on my plane to Rome, I thought I was the most prepared person on the planet. I had completed all my paperwork, packed like a professional, read countless blog posts, talked to study abroad alum, and made a Pinterest board with even more information. Sound familiar?

Well, when my plane touched down in Italy, it felt like those months of preparation disappeared and I had no idea what to expect. While jumping into new things is half the fun of studying abroad, here are some tips to make sure you thrive in your first 24 hours!

(Granted, I’m studying in Rome, but hopefully these are applicable to you too!)

  1. Jet lag is not a force to recon with!: Right now you are excited to see the whole world, but I promise, first day you are going to be exhausted from gaining/losing hours. Try your best to adjust as soon as possible! The best advice for this is to change your phone’s time to the country you are going to. This way, you have some sense of what you should be doing and when. If the people in your new country are asleep, you should be too! Also avoid naps, it will just throw your whole body clock off!
  2. Bring a good amount of cash with you (and small bills if possible!): On your first day, you’ll want to explore and eat on-the-go. In Rome, cashiers are reluctant to take your card, and if you try to pay for an 2euro espresso with a 50 euro bill, they’ll be mad at you. Have a few 5-10 euro bills and you will be set!
  3. Find the comfiest shoes you own and plan on wearing them 99% of the time: get ready to walk A LOT! You’ll be so mesmerized walking around your new city that you won’t even notice that you’ve walked 5 miles…. But only if you wear comfortable shoes! I never wore Chaco’s before this trip, but now they are my prized possession.
  4. New outfit, new person!: Pack a set of clothes in your carry on! While this is good advice, just in case you lose your luggage, I can guarantee that you will be tired, stinky, and a little overwhelmed once you get off your plane. Changing into new clothes will make you feel ready to take on the city!
  5. Become a sponge: you are going to be exposed to a whole new culture in a foreign country, and you’ll absolutely love it! Be open and learn, because this can really set the tone of your whole trip!

Ciao and happy travels!

Elshadai Smith-Mensah

Memorable moments

Two of my favorite memories from my study abroad trip to Torino, Italy happened on the first evening I was there and one of the last evenings.

I arrived alone on a Saturday, one day early to the program start date, and decided to enjoy pizza for dinner and some much needed gelato after. I took my Canon camera to capture some memories and when I was handed the most perfect looking cone of gelato- I HAD to get a picture of me with it. There was a younger, Italian man sitting in the gelato shop who I asked to take a picture of me. He did and then proceeded to ask me if I would be willing to help him practice his English. I weighed out my options- it was still light out at 8:27 PM and sunset was not until 9:18 PM, he was about my size so if I needed to defend myself then I absolutely could, and finally we were in a pretty populated area- and I was able to deduce that if I stood around speaking with the guy it would be a harmless and memorable experience. Our conversation ranged from what kind of pet he had to what his hobbies were. The funniest part of the whole thing was that when I brought up the word “laundry” he mistakenly took it as “lingerie” and I quickly corrected that by whipping out the Google Translate app!!! Whew- what a close call, right?!

Flash forward to the last Aperitivo (if you are going to study abroad in Italy and do not know what this is yet… look it up… you are welcome) of the trip. We walked down to Piazza Vittorio Veneto and found a table at Blanco. Our waiter spoke fairly decent English and when one of the individuals at our table asked about where he learned to speak English, his answer made me almost spit out my drink! He admitted he learned English from watching MTV! A direct quote from this man, “Tupac was my teacher”. This story gets funnier and funnier every time I tell it!

In essence, studying abroad provides unique experiences and gives you the most memorable stories!

Gromm Gelato- Torino, Italy

Gromm Gelato- Torino, Italy

First 2 weeks in Torino

Ciao from Torino, Italy! I’ve been keeping a journal during my time here and am just now getting around to posting on the blog, sorry!

 

Brett Moreno and I boarded our flight from Louisville to Frankfurt, Germany and were absolutely ecstatic. After our long 9 hour plane ride we were finally in Europe. We had breakfast in Germany while waiting for our connection to Torino. Once arriving in Torino we took a cab to our hotel. We arrived a few days earlier than required to get adjusted to the time difference and do some sightseeing. Once getting settled we were off to explore Torino. We found a local café and had lunch then wandered the streets looking through windows and looked around the open market. The next day we journeyed a little further. We walked along the River Po and through one of Torino’s beautiful parks that goes on for about 2 miles. It was absolutely gorgeous. We saw an old castle in the park as well!

A few days later we met up with everyone in the USAC program at a hotel downtown. From there all the students went to dinner at a local pizzeria and got to know each other a little. After dinner the USAC Staff took us on a short walking tour around Torino. They showed us the main squares in downtown, some good local places to eat, and told us a little history about Torino. The following day we moved into our homes for the next 5 weeks. Brett and I live in an apartment right by the school; it’s only about a 5 minute walk. We unpacked and ate at a local restaurant called Il Barone, it was fantastic! And it had English translations on the menu, which was quite a relief since very few people speak any English in Torino. The next day we met the USAC program downtown for a bus tour around the city. We saw so many amazing places such as the church where the holy shroud is kept, the Olympic Stadium, Olympic Village, went on top of the hill overlooking the entire city, and so much more. Sunday was our free day and our last day off before we started school.

Walking tour of Torino. Piazza Castello- the main square in Torino

 

We woke up Sunday morning and spontaneously decided to go to Milan for a day trip! The train ride was about an hour and a half. In Milan we saw the enormous castle in the center of the city and we saw the Duomo, the largest Gothic Cathedral in the World! Milan was absolutely breath taking. We also saw the famous shops in Milan, since it’s the fashion capital of Italy, and one of the top in the world. We finished our day off with some fresh gelato and headed back to Torino.

The Duomo, the largest gothic cathedral in the world

Arco Della Pace in Milan

Puts into perspective how big Castello Sforzesco is!

 

Monday we met at school for orientation. There we went over everything we needed to know about our stay. We got our class schedule and had the chance to meet our teachers. While abroad I am taking Elementary Italian I and International Marketing. Both classes go towards my International Business Minor as well as my Marketing Major. The USAC staff gave us what we call “the bible.” It has everything in it from useful phrases, to good local restaurants, to cheap airlines, a list of all the USAC trips that are available, etc.

 

The first week of school went well. I liked both of my classes and both of my teachers are amazing. The classes are very small, only 3 total in Italian and 8 total in Marketing so everyone is very involved which is great. Even though each class is 3 hours long, it doesn’t feel like it because class is actually fun because everyone is actively participating. Friday after class, Brett and I boarded our train to Venice!! We could hardly contain our excitement on our 4 hour train ride there. When we stepped out of the train station in Venice we were right on the Grand Canal at nighttime! It was so beautiful. We took a water taxi to our hotel, which was right on the water! The next day we went to St. Mark’s Square, took a ride on a gondola, wandered the city, and bought tons of souvenirs. The gondola ride was like our own private tour. Our gondola driver told us all about the history of Venice, showed us buildings where famous people had lived and so much more. We both got amazing oil paintings to hang up at our houses back home! After a long day we headed back to the hotel to rest up and catch our early train back Sunday morning.

Beautiful Venice, Italy

Gondola ride!

St. Mark's Square