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.

The End of La Pura Vida

As I write this post, I am spending one of my last days here in Costa Rica. I cannot help but have feelings of sadness, excitement to go home, and utter awe at what I have learned. If you were to ask me what I learned in my classes I would say nothing.  In comparison to all of the other parts of the trip outside of class, I have learned so much about the Latin American culture and customs and I have truly fell in love with the places, the people I have met, and my host family.  In my Spanish conversation class, I learned Spanish words and phrases and had to give many presentations. In my international marketing class, I learned a lot about how to work in real world situations by doing many case studies, presentations, and examinations of marketing outside of the class in Costa Rica.  I enjoyed my classes even though they caused much stress at times and made me a bit crazy with such a jam-packed schedule. But as the weekends quickly approached each time, I could not wait to go out and explore the country.  The people, the culture, the food, and the beauty have all amazed me.  I will miss seeing the mountains every morning when I workout or walk to class.

I believe that studying abroad is about studying (trust me I did not realize how much there would be), but also about not getting too caught up in the studying and spending time experiencing the culture and the people within it.  Whether it be spending time sitting outside in a park, exploring the nearby city, or doing something crazy like white water rafting or bungee jumping or rafting that you have never done–I urge you to do this! Make sure you make connections with your host family (if you have one), meet other people all over the world, try new foods, and step outside of your regular schedule.  For me, it was hard to eat rice and beans every day for breakfast and not go to the gym one single day for thirty-eight days. But I know that once I go back to the states, I can continue with my green smoothie and daily workout with the remembrance of such a great experience I have had here in Costa Rica. Caio, pura vida, te amo, Costa Rica 🙂