I Wish I Would’ve Known… Before Studying Abroad
September 3, 2012 | by

Going abroad. It can be the scariest, most thrilling, and enlightening experience of your life – all at the same time. If you’re about to go abroad, you probably feel the way I felt last year before I left for Rome: excited, nervous, scared, and overall, unsure of how to feel!

Maybe you feel like you’re not ready to go. Maybe you’re at home, trying to pack. (We can help you with that!) Maybe you’re sitting at an airport debating whether or not you should run for the hills. Maybe you’re already there and are already feeling a little homesick. The best advice I was ever given was to “go anyways!” Do not sit around and wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow is not always guaranteed. Your life is now.

Whenever you dive into an experience like this, you often come home telling yourself things you wish you would’ve known. So here are a few tips from people who have already been through it, so that you can know before you go!

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“I Wish I Would Have Known…” 

“…not to get mad when I got lost, I found some great places and faces along the way.” – Diane F., 21, Rome

“…allow yourself some room to do spontaneous trips! The best trips can sometimes be the ones that are the most life changing and fun.” – Anna O., 20, Prague

“…always, always double, triple, quadruple check any plans you have made like weekend trips or longer breaks to avoid being stuck in a more foreign place than the one you’re studying in with no helpful resources. And ALWAYS carry a map of the city you’re exploring so you’ll never really be lost.” – Elizabeth B., 21, Rome and London

“…on men from Argentina: their hands are either on you or in your purse.” – Nicole H., 21, Buenos Aires

“…do NOT drink to the point of you not knowing where you are and what you are doing… The people and the places are foreign; you’re not in your bubble at home. Drink to enjoy, but don’t get carried away. Also, eat anything and everything!” – Alexandra L., 21, Rome

“…realize you are only there a few months, you should live it up and enjoy yourself! This type of chance will rarely come up again in your life.” – Kristen D., 21, Rome

“…If you want to go somewhere (like a tourist attraction) and you can’t find someone to go with you, go anyway. Some of the best adventures are the solo ones. And if you ever need directions, go to a hotel and ask…they have to be nice no matter what!”” – Christine B., 20, London

“…before you purchase anything ask to see the prices and ask in the language of the country, the people and culture are amazing but if they know you are a tourist they will treat you like one and rip you off. Be smart and be safe.” – Antonette H., 21, Rome

“…take pictures everyday! The pictures at monuments are great but the best pictures to look back on are the ones taken in your favorite restaurant, gelato shop, or on your favorite street. You’ll want to remember the ‘big moments’ and the small ones too!” – Ashley T., 21, Rome

“…always, always, ALWAYS stay left instead of right while walking, running, driving, and biking!” – Chelsey G., 20, Australia

“…get to know the locals. They may lead you to try your future favorite food, give a lift on a scooter, or suggest places that tourists don’t get to see. They are the true key to a city, not a guidebook… And who knows, you may get invited back and have a free place to stay!” Jesse M., 21, Rome

“…make a huge group of friends and call them family.” – Stephanie R., 21, Florence

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You are about to encounter one of the most exciting and most rewarding experiences of your life – so above all, embrace it. See everything you can. Meet the locals. Go out. Learn a language. Fall in love. Get lost in a big city… I promise you, you will regret every minute you did not spend exploring.

Buon viaggio!

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About Author

Diane Ferrer is a senior at Quinnipiac University. Follow her at @dianeferrer. To stay tuned to more articles for classy co-eds be sure to follow College Lifestyles on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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