4 Tips for Weekend Travel Abroad

Ciao! It’s Savannah from Rome again. This is my final week abroad and I am so excited to come home but also so sad to leave. Since this is the end, I have finally been on all my bonus weekend trips: Madrid, Paris, Florence, and London! All of that travel was exhausting, but I saw so much beauty and learned lots of knowledge. So here are my four tips for traveling on weekends while abroad:

1) Book in advance: The earlier you book, the better you will be. This goes for not just availability but also price. When I booked my Madrid trip, we waited until the Monday before to book anything. As soon as the clock changed from 11:59 to noon, our original morning flight doubled in price! We had to change to fly out awkwardly in the middle of the afternoon to save money, so we lost a half day. You will also make sure you get on the flight or in the hotel you want. Book as soon as you decide to go and don’t wait!

2) Plan to be delayed: Disclaimer: I am not condoning getting to the airport late. PLEASE always get to the airport in enough time to check your bag and get through security. However, once on the other side of security, plan to see you flight delayed once you look at a departures board. I flew on six flights while abroad (not including my flights here and back home), and only one of them was not delayed. My flights To Madrid were delayed 30 minutes there and two hours back, my Paris flight was delayed an hour there and 30 minutes back, and my London flight was delayed 45 minutes there. My only on time flight was my flight home from London. The main thing to take away from this: do not plan any timed events the day you arrive, because you may miss them.

*** Small bonus tip: print your boarding pass at home. You will have to wait in the checked bag line to print you boarding pass and it could cost you over 40 euros! Just print your pass at home and have it on your phone, because it will save you time and money.

3) Prepare for different standards: Europe and America are two completely different places, with two completely different set of normal happenings and standards. Since you won’t need a full checked bag for a weekend away (trust me, you won’t), you can go straight to security. Security (in Rome at least) requires you to take out your liquid bag and laptops, but that’s it. The longest I ever waited for security from beginning to end was four minutes. So that’s security, but now onto the reason you’r at the airport: flying. Your planes will be smaller in all aspects. Your food and drink (including water) will not be free. You will probably experience more turbulence. Your ticket is much cheaper than home, so you get what you pay for.

4) Sleep is for the weak: I want to preface this with I always plan to sleep at least eight hours a night. Sometimes, however, you have to make sacrifices for the greater good of yourself. You can sleep when you get back to America. Plan that early flight there and late flight back, and wake up early to sight-see and get back late to enjoy your dinner. You may be exhausted on that flight home, but those memories will last a lifetime. We’re young, we can survive on four hours of sleep. THAT BEING SAID: Sleep and rest up before your class, because the main goal of study abroad is to learn and study.

*** Bonus tip #2: Always drink water when you can! You will be walking a lot, and being dehydrated is the easiest and fastest way to slow yourself down. I got so dehydrated in London we had to skip our after-dinner plans because I was so sick. Drink water and it will save you physically and mentally.

Thanks for reading!


5 Study Abroad Apps You Must Have

Hello! It’s Savannah again – I am still in Rome. While here, I have downloaded some apps on my phone that I feel have helped me in some cases, and saved my experience in others! Here, in no order, are my favorite study abroad apps:

1) Units Converter FREE by Alan Mrvica -This converter app is not just for currency (which saved me form overpaying for so many things my first week here!), but also for length, speed, temperature, and volume. This is helpful because so many things are different here in Europe like liters and millimeters, so being able to easily figure out what everything exactly is gives me a peace of mind I did not think I needed.

2) Hostelworld by Web Reservations International – If you are planning weekend travel , you will probably be staying in a Hostel. The SAFEST way to find a hostel is through Hostelworld; they have ratings for not just safety but also location, cleanliness, facilities, and value for money. If you want to safe lots of money but also stay somewhere not sketchy, book your hostel through Hostelworld.

3) Citymapper by Citymapper Limited – This might be the most important app on my phone. This app is like google maps with so many extra features. Not only does it tell you how to walk and drive places, but it also tells you how to get to your destination using public transportation such as train, bus, tram, or metro. When trying to save money and not get a taxi everywhere, this app is one of the best ways to figure out public transport in a new city. If you only downaload one app on this list, download this one.

4) Google Translate by Google – There is some controversy with this app as sometimes it does not translate correctly, but the offline part is a lifesaver. When you’re international, phone data is sacred. By using this app in offline mode, you never have to worry about not being able to get somewhere or find necessities.

5) mytaxi by Intelligent Apps GmbH – This is a Rome / Italy exclusive, but a MUST if you study abroad here. Uber is illegal (yah, crazy right?), and if you get caught in an uber you could get a fine or worst of all, you could possible go to jail. There is an easy solution: use mytaxi instead! It is just like Uber, but for taxis. You can pre-book taxis for multiple days in advance, and are usually early rather than late. You can also chose to pay with Euros or your card, so you don’t have to worry about having exact change if you don’t have it. Plus if you’re eco-friendly as I am, you can chose to order a taxi that is electric rather than gas! It’s a cool app to use that won’t get you arrested, which is hopefully something you’re trying to avoid.


3 things you should know before taking classes abroad

Hello cardinals! It’s Savannah again. I am still in Rome studying at the beautiful John Cabot University. As the most important part of study abroad is the STUDY part, here are three things to know about taking classes abroad:

1) Not too soon, not too late!

Back home, I definitely opt to have classes later in the day so that I can sleep in. I assume most college kids feel the same way: sleep is a gift! While studying abroad, however, I took the earliest class possible. This is only 9am here, but being done at 10:50am and having an almost three hour lunch break is such a gift! I also get done around 3:30, so I still have time after class if I want to go see some sights before dinner. Plan your classes (if you can) to have free time during the day at some point. You will want to spend time in your beautiful city, you chose it! I have friends that don’t start class till 3:30 and get done at around 5, so they go before hand. Just make sure you have a plan to get to class on time if you decide to have later classes.

2) Do your homework

Do just like you would back home: do research about your classes before committing. If you are lucky like me and have options you can do this, but if you are taking a required class, you may be out of luck. Check the teachers: are they lecture heavy? Test heavy? Just because you are abroad doesn’t mean all classes will be to your liking. Also make sure you are actually interested int he topic! I love my classes, but there are some people in my program who dread going to class every day because they didn’t do their research.

3) Don’t expect everything to be the same

While some things will be the same, classes abroad are not 100 percent like back home. You will need to study and do your homework just like back home, but depending on your teacher your class may be run differently. As for me, my classes have a ten minute break in the middle to rest. I never get a break back home. But not everything could be positive like that. Just mentally prepare that your teacher is not a Louisville professor; respect them and know that they know what theyr’e doing. Another thing that won’t be the same is the speed at which material goes: my program is only five weeks! Learning the same amount of material you learn in fifteen weeks in a third of the time means material will go much faster. Just be prepared, and if you need more help your professor should be glad to help.

Thanks for reading! I hope you learned something new about study abroad!

-Savannah T, Class of 2020

Introduction to Rome

Hey there cardinals! My name is Savannah and I am currently studying abroad in Rome, Italy at John Cabot University. My major is marketing and my minors are computer information systems and international marketing. A fun fact about me is that I also cheer for the university on the all-girl squad!

Here are some facts about my program and why I chose JCU in Rome. First, I wanted to go somewhere that had lots to do and see since I would be there the most in my study abroad but wasn’t extremely touristy like Paris or London. I felt that Rome was a perfect combination between beautiful locations and tourism. Second, I wanted to go to a place that had many English speakers, and thankfully Rome has many English speakers. Next, I wanted to go to an accredited school that would be welcoming to Americans, and John Cabot University was perfect: it’s an American Liberal Arts college based in Rome. Finally, I needed to pick a program that fit the dates I needed: with tryouts for the cheer team being on May 12th and the first week of practices being planned for the last week of June, I needed to find a program that fit between those dates. Luckily, JCU in Rome fit all these requirements perfectly!

How did I get to JCU? I went through SAI study abroad programs. They were more expensive than directly applying to the university, but I wanted to go with a program for a few of the benefits offered. First, it is my first time coming to Europe, so I wanted to have a program that would check in with me every few days to make sure I am safe. Second, programs have multiple services that you may not think of that they include in their price: airport transportation, cell phone service, health insurance, 24-hour emergency service, and my personal favorite: included excursions. While abroad, I wanted to be able to do things I wouldn’t be able to do if I just came on vacation. I of course was taking classes here, but I also am able to go on adventures unavailable to tourists through SAI. Next, An unanticipated benefit of coming in a program that I did not think of until I got here was that there are a group of people you can fall back on and become closer with. All of the SAI students that are here in Rome have become my friends, and even outside of SAI sponsored events we are hanging out and going on adventures. It’s nice to already have friends who worry about your safety on the first day here!

I have only been here for a few days and do not start class until tomorrow morning, but I already have learned so much about Rome! First, carry enough currency with you throughout the day. Many places here in Rome, more than I expected, do not allow cards and only accept Euros. There have been multiple times already where we have had to pass up restaurants or shops because multiple people in the group only have cards and do not carry cash. Do not be that person! Second, walking is essential here in Rome. In three days, I walked a combine total of 33 miles! I knew to pack my nice walking shoes and shoe inserts, but even with those my feet hurt so bad at the end of the day. Get heavy duty shoe inserts at best, and at worst do not plan to walk everywhere in sandals! Every single one of my friends wore sandals the first day, and have blisters so bad that now they can’t even wear shoes without it hurting!

I wanted to just give a brief summary about me for this first post. Thank you for reading, and come back next week to hear about my first week of classes in Rome!

-Savannah T, Class of 2020