Before arriving in Italy, I knew one other person. Brennen was the only other student I had known originally. Other than that, I barely talked to any of the other students during the two pre-departure meetings, which is definitely unlike me. It made me a bit more nervous but I kept in consideration that I do not struggle making friends. I am a communications major and because of this, studying abroad in Rome with this specific program was the perfect situation for me. I prepared for this program academically by purchasing the textbook that was mandatory. I glanced at the textbook a little before arriving in order to see how the class would look like. I also wanted to learn about Italian culture before arriving and the textbook was a great reference. For example, I learned that: “it is often argued that an Italian’s sense of geographical identity is more strongly based on a feeling of belonging to his or her town or village than it is on a sense of fellowship with other Italians,” (Italian Cultural Studies and Introduction, pg. 20). Reading that made me notice already a cultural difference. In America, we are not separated seperated as a nation. Along with reading bits and pieces of the textbook, I added the Duolingo app on my phone. My personal preparations included packing. I have already studied abroad (Semester at Sea), so therefore I have packing experience. But I noticed that I ended up packing very differently for this trip. This study abroad program is in July with really warm weather. I took into consideration that Julia told us specifically to not wear leggings, jean shorts and flip-flops. I did not bring any of those types of clothes because I did not want to stick out here in Italy. I also remembered her explaining to not wear the brightest colors. I packed many sundresses, skirts, tank tops etc. I did not have many cultural expectations for Italy. But I have been to Majorca Spain before and my parents explained to me that they felt it was similar to Italy in a cultural matter. Because of this, in a way I expected Italy to have the same time of feel. I also expected that the food would be incredible. I was looking forward to eating gelato and pasta every single day. I expected Italy be very hot because of it being summer and with the humidity.
I can pleasantly announce that I definitely ate gelato not only every single day, yet every minute possible!
Before arriving in Italy I spent three weeks in London (my last blog post explained a bit about that experience).
I did not know who my roommates would be, what the apartment will look like, or how tedious the schoolwork will be. This is normal to be anxious about, keep that in mind!
I knew from studying abroad already, that I would feel content and more comfortable after seeing everything. I genuinely enjoyed my time in London and I was sad to leave. But at the same time, Italy was my next adventure to experience. I had never been to Italy before this but had heard such amazing stories. This made me so excited to experience the Italian culture for five whole weeks.
I had any easy time making friends from the beginning. My advice is to get to know every single person in the program right away and be open towards everyone! (Below is a photo of my new BFF Rachel that I made while I was studying in Italy). The relationships that are created while traveling are entirely different and in my opinion more special than any other!