Fear of Studying Abroad?

Studying abroad has allowed me to learn about myself. You never really learn about independence until you move out of your parent’s house, which typically happens when one starts college. However, being in different country where you do not understand the language and culture is great way to develop one’s independence. Being abroad has allowed me to see that I am capable of doing pretty much anything on my own. It takes confidence and a bit of resilience to take on the challenge of being alone in a new country. So if you are afraid of traveling abroad, I recommend that you forget that fear and go abroad. This opportunity is a valuable life experience and for most people this is a once in a lifetime chance. Many places you have never been able to imagine visiting could become a reality and the experiences you will learn throughout the trip will be remembered for the rest of your life. I am really glad I studied abroad and if you are on the fence about going, just take the leap of faith, because life is short and you do not want to regret not going later on in life.

Study Abroad Friends

Five weeks abroad may not seem like a long time to some people, but for me I feel the opposite. I got to experience many amazing things that people have only dreamed about and I have met people who I feel I will be connected to for the rest of my life. There was one guy I met in particular, who is from Washington, who I have many things in common. The first day I met him, it seemed like we would never really talk, but one day we happened to sit next to each other in class and we found out we had very similar interests and almost instantly developed a friendship. We have taken most of our trips together and we are actually planning to meet up in the future to each other around our city. While I have known him a short period of time, he has been more of a friend to me than some of my “friends” back home. It is unfortunate that we do not live close together, but I believe the bond we have developed over these past five weeks will be unbreakable. Thus, I leave the recommendation of talking to as many people as you can while abroad. Talk to people who appear to be different than your friend circle back home and get to know. Although, it may seem like a waste of time, but you could possibly develop friendships with people all over the country, who are not only good people, but also a potentially resourceful business contact if you decide to move near their area in the future.

Recommendation #3

Another recommendation I have if you are studying abroad, is find that one person in your program that has travelled a lot and befriend them. This person will have all the insight about all the places you are thinking of traveling to during your time abroad. These people are great resources, honestly in some cases more beneficial than the people who work for your program. They know good places to eat, good places to sleep, interesting monuments/structures to go see, and even nightlife places to experience, if that is in your realm of fun. So get to know everyone in your program, if you can, because you will never know who holds a wealth of information. Also, if you do encounter someone with this knowledge, of what seems everything, they may be able to help you save money on trips.

Financing Advice

In terms of your financing while studying abroad, you should definitely over budget. I know it is recommended to take $200 worth of euros, but personally I felt this was not enough. Therefore I ordered $600 worth of euros and it turned out that I still did not budget enough money prior to leaving. With one week left in Torino, I had no cash and most places there do not take cards, which is a real nuisance. Thus, I had to go to an ATM and pay the fees for withdrawing such a miniscule amount of money. Heed my warning, take much more money than you need abroad because you will feel better going back home with money to convert back to U.S. dollars, than coming home with an empty wallet.

Missing Aspects of Home

Studying abroad has made me appreciate aspects of America that I took for granted. For one, food in America is way cheaper than it is in Italy. I will never forget walking into McDonald’s and seeing a McChicken with medium fries and a medium drink for 5.50 euros. Another thing that should not be taken for granted is free water. Probably one of the hardest things I have had to adjust to, is paying for water at restaurants. While it is possible to get free water by asking for tap water, most waiters/waitresses are not fluent in English, therefore they end up bringing out the “premium” water that increases your bill. The last thing that I have taken for granted is the high speed internet that is offered in America. For most of my time in Italy, except for like 4 days, I did not have Wi-Fi in my apartment. While it is not a big deal to me that I cannot check social media, however it was very annoying for school purposes. There was a couple of assignments I could not turn in because our Wi-Fi was out, when it was supposed to be “working.” All is all, do not take the small things for granted, because studying in another country will open your eyes to how the world operates in relation to America.

Recommendation #2

Another recommendation I have if you travel to Torino, is to trust the Pizza Kebab guy. Now I know this may sound silly or I just may have been lucky with the guys I have talked to, but whenever I needed directions, the Pizza Kebab guy knew where to go. Do not get me wrong, I do not understand Italian in the slightest and some were hard to communicate with, but they knew where I was trying to go and at they at least were able to point me in the right direction. For example, I went to Florence and was having difficulty finding the leather market. I was in a big Piazza and sure enough there was a Pizza Kebab stand, so I went up to the vendor and simply said “leather market” and he pointed towards a street and made a hand gesture to turn left, so I thanked him and followed his directions. Then, as always the Pizza Kebab guy was right and I found the leather market. So when in doubt of directions, find a Pizza Kebab guy to ask for directions.

Recommendation #1

One thing that I recommend when you travel abroad is pay attention to your surroundings, as well as the people you may come across. If you become too engulfed in the scenery, you may pass up on an opportunity to meet someone, who you may never have thought of encountering. Thankfully, I adhered to this recommendation, because I got to meet one of my favorite DJs, DJ Mustard. The encounter was kind of spontaneous and funny. So to start off, I took a weekend trip to Barcelona and walked for hours around the city, roughly 30,000 steps, and I had a flight back to Torino very early next morning. With little sleep and the previous day’s adventures, I was very exhausted. After boarding the plane, to make matters worse, we were delayed for like 45 minutes, due to engine issues. Not only was I exhausted, but now nervous, my vision of the day was not very optimistic. However, it was a safe trip and I was able to take a 30 minute nap. Then, as I was departing the plane, I noticed this short guy with a Gucci backpack, followed by what looked like a 6’5”, Pittsburg Steelers linebacker. After further inspection, I was filled with excitement as it turned out the mysterious person was one of my favorite DJs, DJ Mustard. He was headed to Torino for the Rhianna concert. I got to take a picture with him and just like that, my rough day was immediately turned around and I quickly forgot everything that was making my day less enjoyable. Thus, stay aware of your surroundings, because you never know who you will encounter.