By Meghan Milazzo
I studied abroad in Florence, Italy and now live in Rome. Everyone told me I had to study abroad in college! I saw photos of friends that did it in the past and it looked amazing, but I honestly still had doubts. I had a huge FOMO (fear of missing out) about leaving college for Spring Semester. I didn’t know anyone! Did I really want to miss out on spring semester with all my college friends including spring break?
I decided to take the risk. I learned so much that I would do it all over again without hesitation. Yes, you’ll miss some things but you will gain a lot more. I had exceptions of what my experience was going to be like, but when I went I didn’t set the bar high enough. It’s the most incrediable experience of your life. Everyone told me studying abroad would “change” my persepective on life and open my eyes to a whole new world and culture. Well it did! I still learn new things everyday living in Europe. So get excited to embark on a study abroad experience full of travel, adventure, fun, lots of food, pub crawls, getting lost, experiences, memories, and building friendships that will last forever.
I laugh at the thought that I didn’t want to miss out on a spring break when I got months to travel in Europe. I had the opportunity to skydive/canyon jump in Switzerland, Atv/booze cruise in Greece, experience Amsterdam (enough said), Springfest Munich prosting steins, Romance in Paris, Bike around Barcelona, Soccer games in Madrid, Ireland St. Patrick’s Day, feel like a princess in the fairytale city of Prauge, Caving in Budapest, vacationing with celeberities in Amalfi Coast, and eating the best food in Italy. The list could go on and you should check out Bus2alps to help you get to do all of these things and much more.
Culture shock! A list of things Americans do when studying abroad:
1.) Drink before you’re 21: No need for fake Ids the drinking age is 18. Some countries even let you drink out in public!
2.) Learn to navigate: In America we have our license and a car/GPS. Europe you mostly walk and need to learn how to use public transportation. Reading a map is easy and it’s fun because you never know what you will find along the way.
3.) Crave American food : No matter what everyone caves into wanting that American food to console you in desperate times. A cappuccino, panini, slice of pizza are just not going to cut it. Starbucks in Prague, DD in Berlin, McDonald’s/ BK, Hard Rock Cafe, Chiptole in Paris, wings at Hooter’s in Interlaken. Even just a spoonful of peanut butter (recommend bringing a jar from home) everyone does it!
4.) Overpack: Honestly when leaving you think you need everything. Trust me I’m a girl and love clothes! However, when you are traveling Europe you wear all your basics. Just imagine lugging a suitcase for miles on cobblestone streets. It feels like a P90x workout literally. So don’t overpack you’ll regret it!
5.)Sign up for a Pub Crawl: You meet so many other travelers that have the same interest as you: partying, sightseeing, and down to have a good time. You have a tour guide to take you to the best bars of the city for only 20 Euro or less and sometimes even get a free t-shirt at the end!
6.) Sleep in a hostel: Hostels are not like the scary movies all Americans think of. Some are even nicer then hotels. When traveling on your own expect to be placed with strangers. It could be a person who hasn’t showered for days, a group of rowdy Australians, a lonely traveler, or one of your new best friends. Regardless staying in a hostel is fun and you never leave without a story.
7.) Adjustment: At first you will feel like everything is completely new, you don’t fit in,and don’t know the culture. Your self confidence may go down because you can’t pronounce anything right and don’t want to offend anyone. However, over time you will change and adapt to your new surroundings. Once you start to catch on to the culture clues you become more confident and comfortable. So just remember when you first get there not to be too hard on yourself. Change is good, however, it just takes a little time to adjust!
8.) Try new things: Studying abroad is an experience! You don’t want to have any regrets. Try new foods even the famous Italian Street sandwich tripe( pigs stomach). You may love it or not like it at all, but at least you get a good laugh. My dad always said you never know unless you try!
9.)Reverse Culture Shock: At first you experience culture shock, but when you return home you tend to notice it a lot more. Tons of Americans wear workout clothes to work or to grab a coffee rolling right out of bed. Europeans don’t do that. I questioned little things like maybe I shouldn’t wear my sweatpants to work and class ALL the time. I noticed american portions are a lot bigger,we are all obsessed with our cellphones/wifi, and we don’t walk/bike ride as often as people in Europe to get around. As much as we all can’t wait to return and reunite with friends and family we will always miss the little things about the traditional ways of the European lifestyle.
So pack those bags and get excited to embark on a journey like no other!