It’s hard to imagine exactly what to expect when you first go abroad. No one can entirely prepare you for all of the new experiences you’re about to have, however, there are a few things every person going abroad will experience regardless of who they are or where they study. After my time studying abroad and now working in Italy with study abroad students these are the top five things I’ve come to learn everyone can expect when they take the leap and head to a different country for a semester.
You can expect to….
1. Step out of your comfort zone. Studying abroad is all about trying new things. Whether that means sampling escargot in France or navigating the hectic bus system in Rome, you’re going to be thrown into situations you may not be entirely comfortable with. The important thing is to face these situations with an open mind. Who knows, you may find that snails are your new favorite meal!
2. Get lost. You’re guaranteed to get lost at some point during your time abroad, if not very often! Keep in mind that this is all part of the experience. Maybe you forgot your way home from dinner, or you’re visiting a new country on the weekend and have no clue where your hostel is. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to explore a city. Don’t be afraid to toss away the map and wander… You never know what you might find!
3. Walk everywhere. If you’re worried about getting enough exercise while you’re abroad to balance out the Italian pizza and pasta you’re bound to indulge in, don’t worry too much! When you’re abroad you can expect to walk everywhere. In between walking around the city to get to class and exploring new places you should be getting enough physical activity to help prevent you from gaining 15 pounds from all of that gelato… Hopefully.
4. Have one of the most amazing times of your life. Sun bathing in the Amalfi Coast, partying at Oktoberfest, signing the John Lennon wall in Prague and skiing in the Swiss Alps are all token abroad experiences that your bound to look back on and think about how they make up some of your favorite memories. Each person’s abroad experience may be unique, but you can be sure that you will finish off your time abroad thinking it was the experience of a lifetime.
5. Be changed. Studying abroad is an experience that will inevitably change you. You will look back on your time abroad and be amazed thinking of the person you were when your flight first landed in Europe to the person you are now. It will help you see things in a new perspective and you will learn things about yourself you never knew before, like your new found talent for picking up different languages or chugging a stein of German beer in less than four seconds.
And lastly, expect the unexpected! You never know where your time abroad will lead you. Open yourself to each new experience and your bound to have an amazing semester!