This summer I spent six weeks studying abroad in Italy. Best time of my life? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. You have an entire semester in Europe ahead of you, so get excited for the amazing adventure that awaits you! By the time you return home you will be well-versed in European life. In the meantime though, here are some tips to keep in mind to make the most of your new home.
Appreciate the culture and embrace new opportunities: You’re not in America anymore, so be respectful of your host country and embrace the cultural differences. You probably won’t understand the reasoning behind everything Europeans do, but that is half of the fun! Be open to new and different opportunities that you can’t experience at home by immersing yourself in their way of life, stepping out of your comfort zone, making an effort to learn the language, and finding places where the locals hang out.
Be spontaneous: I’m the kind of person who likes things to go as planned. When studying abroad though, this is rarely the case. Some of my best experiences while abroad actually came about because things didn’t go as planned. Make time to get lost or take a new route home because you never know what you will find.
Take advantage of easy travel: From weekend excursions with Bus2Alps to day trips with a few friends, take advantage of how easy it is to travel in Europe. Plan ahead so you can fit in all of the places you want to see. If you want all of the details to be taken care of for you, travel with the amazing Bus2Alps crew. The trip to the Amalfi Coast was one of the highlights of my time in Italy. If you want to be more spontaneous, grab a few friends and find the nearest train station. It doesn’t take long to figure out how the trains work, and the places you can go seem endless.
Conquer homesickness: It is more than likely that at some point in between your schoolwork, your exciting new adventures, and your nights out with friends, homesickness will set in. Everyone experiences it at different times and in varying degrees. It may seem like a good idea to seek out support from your friends and family back home. While this can be helpful, don’t rely on them too much. When you leave Europe, you will be disappointed if you spent more time on Skype and email than you did seeing the country. The best cure for homesickness is to stay busy and surround yourself with others. This will help you keep your mind off everything you are missing back home.
Remember to enjoy the little things: While you’re jetting between countries, jumping off cliffs, taking pictures holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and relaxing on gorgeous beaches, don’t forget to enjoy the little things as well. Try a new gelato flavor, watch the sunset, learn to cook an authentic dish, or listen to the music playing in the streets at night. These experiences are just as rewarding as the more popular experiences your friends and family are expecting you to have.
Last but not least, have fun! There is so much to learn about other countries and cultures when you take the time to explore what the world has to offer. Your experience studying abroad in Europe is something you will keep with you and talk about for the rest of your life, so make the most of it!
To read more about Kelsey’s study abroad experience, visit my blog at: http://exploringitaly2013.wordpress.com/.