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