When you go abroad, you’re always given the advice of bringing some comforts from home with you. That may include snacks, blankets, stuffed animals, or in my case, my best friend.
I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Italy. I lived in Northern Italy for two years of my childhood and have family there. My family has always celebrated our Italian heritage, I was even named after my Italian great aunt.
Once I got to college, my plans to go abroad got complicated. I moved into a college house and found it difficult to leave my friends behind. I ended up compromising a semester abroad for a summer abroad and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
One of the benefits was that my boyfriend of three years was able (and willing) to tag along. It didn’t take too much convincing, I mean who wouldn’t want to spend their summer in Italy?
Turns out, spending every waking second together, yes, even in Italy, isn’t a dream come true. There’s some pretty important pros and cons to consider when inviting friends along.
Pro: You have a built-in buddy for the program. Lots of students actually travel abroad with friends. And having friends with you already is a pretty fun bonus. As an introvert, making friends in such a short time is a challenge. It’s one of the aspects of study abroad that would have worried me, although there is absolutely nothing to be worried about. I ended up finding plenty of friends, despite my shyness.
Con: Similar to the pro, having a built-in buddy cuts you off from others. During weekends, I went on trips with my boyfriend that we planned in advance, rather than new friends. Now this doesn't have to be a con, if you’re okay with going with the flow. My boyfriend and I, however, planned most of my weekend trips in advance. That meant we missed out on some fun group trips with new friends.
Pro: You have a little piece of home with you. I rarely get homesick, but being with my best friend (and a whole cohort of American students) made me even more comfortable being in a foreign country without any familiarity.
Con: You will get sick of each other. Unless you practically live with each other before you go abroad, it's simply impossible not to over-do quality time together.
Pro: Lastly, one of the best pros of all, you’ll create a lasting memory that transcends your time abroad. At the end of the program, I got to go home with my boyfriend, having just experienced the best summer together. It’s an experience we’ll remember and cherish for the rest of our lives.
Time abroad is fleeting, so spend it in whichever way makes you the happiest: with new friends or old ones, either way you’ll have the experience of a lifetime.
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<p>Ciao, my name is Chiara and I'm a rising senior at the University of Portland studying English, computer science, and education! I work as a news reporter on my campus newspaper (and will soon be an editor as well). I am extremely excited to be studying abroad in Rome, Italy this summer and I can’t wait to gain experience and share my journey for others while doing what I love: writing.</p>