10 things I didn’t expect studying abroad

By April Leonard


  1. Water isn’t free. WHAT! Now with that being said, it isn’t expensive (1 euro for a liter at most restaurants), but as someone born and raised in the United States and accustomed to being poured an ice cold glass the second I’m seated in a restaurant, it took some getting used to.


  1. Cars will come insanely close to you, as in they will just about hit you, whether in London, Florence, or Rome. Always look before crossing, but keep in mind that most streets are one way so when you stop and frantically shake your head left and right before crossing, it’s easy for anyone to assume you’re an American.  


  1. Bathrooms are tiny. Unless you are dining at a fancy ristorante, bathrooms are what I would consider “airplane sized” and slightly claustrophobic.


  1. You will not be able to figure out how to flush the toilet. There are no typical handles like us Americans are accustomed to, so after staring in confusion for a couple seconds you will wonder if the button is on the wall, on the toilet, or often there are two buttons (which one do you press?!). Well, after about a week and using various restrooms, you will get the hang of it.


  1. Italians always sound like they’re about to get in a fight, especially the men. I heard two men “talking” outside and was waiting for a fight to break out, yet they just continued speaking and then carried on with their days.


  1. Dinner takes at least three hours in Italy. Our program leaders told us this on the first night, but I thought to myself, “how could I ever spend three hours on a meal?” Well, turns out when meals are two or three courses and you’re surrounded by good company, you do spend about three hours at dinner.


  1. A bar in Italy is not a “bar” as we know them in America. Our first few nights, as we would wander around Florence after dinner we noticed many neon signs glowing BAR, yet most of them were closed. Turns out a bar in Italy is comparable to a Starbucks in America, so please do not walk in dressed in club attire.


  1. Alfredo and Chicken Parmesean are not real Italian dishes…WHAT?! But they have that at Olive Garden…


  1. Wait, what’s that extra 15 euros on your bill? Oh it’s just a cover charge, common in Italy. What is not common, however, is tipping.


  1. Selfie sticks are sold. On. Every. Corner. And the sellers will wave them in your face everytime you walk by. I mean, hey it makes sense! Selfie sticks can be used for selfies, or even to get a higher angle on the crowded Raphael paintings at the Uffizi.


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