It’s been almost two full months since I left the United States to study abroad at John Cabot University, and although cravings of certain foods and familiar faces are happening more and more often, I am still incredibly happy to be here. I am trying to make the most of every moment I have here, because I’m not quite ready to leave. Especially since my Rome to-do list seems to be getting larger, not smaller.
Everyone’s favorite thing to say before I left besides “have the time of your life” was “you are going to learn so much”, and I have. I’m not sure what exactly I expected to learn about myself or Italian culture, but some of these have definitely come as a surprise and even humorous.
I think this sums things up pretty well thus far:
- You’ll probably learn more about your home country and what people think of your country than about the country you’re visiting.
- Counting carbs does not exist in Italy, so eat your heart out.
- America doesn’t do everything perfectly, and neither does any other place.
- A smile (and sometimes hand gestures) go a long way with language obstacles.
- Phones don’t need to be out at school, meals, or during any conversation really.
- When you don’t have reliable transportation, or a valid bus ticket on you, anywhere within 5 miles is walking distance. Even in the pouring rain.
- Keeping in touch with home is hard, but doable. Do it.
- There is a fine line to balance between planning and spontaneity.
- But say yes, almost always.
- Independence, and being alone sometimes, is important.
- Europe is an entire bucket list in itself, but remember to create a passion to explore more of your own backyard.
- I love new foods, but don’t tell me what’s in it until after I’ve finished it.
- Paper maps are a good test for friendships.
- It is not necessarily admirable to always be busy or working. Take the time, walk slow, and ask people to tell you stories of their lives.
- “Less is more” applies to packing, but never to pictures. Don’t forget to look out from behind the lens too, though.
- Being sensitive to a different culture doesn’t mean you aren’t proud of your own.
- Coffee shops are my favorite no matter what city I’m in. But make your home cafe the one with the best coffee, latte art, and baristas.
- Write it all down wherever you can so you won’t forget it.
- You will not be best friends with every person you meet while abroad and that’s okay.
- Finally, there is no right or wrong way to spend your time abroad: spend the time how it makes you happy.