Finding Both Friends & FOMO Abroad

Victoria Pembroke
September 17, 2021

It’s been over two weeks since my flight hit the ground in Italy and since I hit the ground running in Milan, and I’m already shocked at how comfortable I feel here with all of the amazing people I’ve already met. I’ve already found myself saying “I’m gonna go home” when referring to my dorm here, and feel a sense of comfort and relief whenever I get off at my Famagosta metro stop.

But I’ll be honest, despite how comfortable I feel now, I was definitely nervous about making friends abroad just because I went into my program here in Milan knowing absolutely no one. Although I’m a very outgoing person and usually don’t have too much trouble making friends, the thought of going to an entirely foreign country for four months without knowing anyone was really worrying! This, coupled with the fact that (because of COVID-19 safety measures) everyone in the IES Abroad Milan program is living in single occupancy bedrooms this semester, made me nervous that I wouldn’t be able to meet people, especially without a roommate or suitemates. But of course, just as everyone always tells you: it all worked out and I was completely okay!

I was able to meet so many other IES Abroad students within just my first few minutes of moving in since many are living at the Collegio di Milano with me. I was immediately shocked at how kind, friendly, and welcoming everyone was. This was one of my main worries, because I expected everyone to know each other from their home universities back in the states, and therefore was worried that they’d all stick to their normal friend groups and be reluctant to meet new people. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sure, there were plenty of people who came into the program with friends already, but there were also a surprising amount who didn’t, and even the ones who did all seemed ready to branch out and truly connect with new people, for which I was really grateful for. I have IES Abroad staff and organizers to thank for this too, because they filled our first few days in Milan with orientation events, dinners, and lunches that provided us with plenty of opportunities to not only get more comfortable with our new city, but also with others in the program!

And now, two whole weeks later, I truly feel like I have many close friends here that I will carry on with me throughout not only the rest of my abroad experience, but even the rest of my life. These friends are from such different places, like Seattle, LA, Chicago, and more. I’ve even gotten close with many of the Italian students that also live at the Collegio with us! I now feel comfortable wherever I go in Milan, because I know that there’s always a friendly face to walk with me to class, go shopping with, go out for dinner at night with, or even plan weekend get-aways with (which I actually already did with some of my girlfriends here to Positano last weekend and it was AMAZING). I think everyone in our program has gotten so close these past couple weeks, and it truly warms my heart to see so many IES Abroad students always standing around outside the IES Abroad Milan Center, chatting with each other before class, or sitting and sipping cappuccinos with one-another at the local café right across the street during breaks or after class!

But of course, with making so many amazing friends obviously comes…the FOMO. We’ve all experienced it: Fear of Missing Out, and in a city like Milan and a country like Italy, it’s pretty easy to get FOMO when you know there’s always something super fun you could be doing with some really spectacular people. This can make it hard to take time to yourself or spend anytime alone, because you may constantly find yourself feeling guilty for staying in and alone, as if you’re missing out on making every memory possible during your short time abroad.

While I definitely encourage anyone studying abroad to make the most of their time and try to experience as much as they can and really make lasting bonds with the people they meet, I also think that it’s equally as important to listen to your own needs and take some time to rest and just spend time with yourself every now and then. If you don’t, you’re sure to burn out quickly and all of your time spent out seeing places and spending time with others won’t be as fun as it could be if you’re well rested and taking care of yourself. Sure, you might get a little FOMO every now and then, but it’s important to remember that FOMO is something that everyone experiences, and just because you’re alone every now and then doesn’t mean you’re missing out on everything! Being with yourself is just as important (if not more) as being with others, and you need to prioritize your down time every now and then.

Be sure to have fun, but also take some time to nap, study, journal, read, and self-reflect. I’ve already found some structure in my daily life here in Milan, and have personally been really fond of taking strolls around the city after class alone to discover new places myself, and even shop alone sometimes as I don’t feel rushed or feel like I’m annoying someone else by spending too much time in any one store. I’ve also really enjoyed going back to my dorm in the afternoons to just scroll through TikTok or watch some TV. I try to eat dinner with friends whenever possible though, whether at Collegio or out in the city, and love going out at night on the weekends. It’s all about balance! Taking time to myself throughout the week and each day has become really valuable to me, and has also proven to be really useful for blogging, journaling, and even self-reflecting!

However, I will admit that when I first took some alone time to myself here, I felt really weird and unproductive, like I was missing out on anything and everything. But trust me, with time, the FOMO goes away and you can get used to your own time and then enjoy your time out with friends even more. There’s a lot of people in this world that hate being alone because they can’t stand to be in their own company, which is a huge issue that can even lead to a lot of bad habits and being too dependent on others. And if you solely depend on others for your own happiness, then you’re going to live a very sad life. So yes, while my experience abroad has proven to be a very positive one so far and I’ve found it very easy to make great friends, I’ve also recognized the importance of standing up to FOMO, learning to like my own company, taking time to myself, and truly being my own source of happiness, and I suggest that everyone else do the same! Afterall, at the end of the day, all you have is the thoughts in your own head and the body you call home, so it’s important to treat both with care.

P.S. - enjoy some photos of myself and the friends I’ve already made here! Not to give you FOMO or anything, but they’re pretty amazing ;)

Victoria Pembroke

<p>I'm Tori and I'm from North Bennington, Vermont USA. I'm currently a third-year student at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts studying Finance with minors in Spanish and Information Design and Corporate Communication. At Bentley, I'm treasurer of the Ski and Snowboard Club, Scholarship Chair of Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority, and a member of the Women's Leadership Program, Bentley Literary Society, and Habitat for Humanity. After graduating Bentley I hope to work in corporate finance or investor relations for a few years before eventually following my life-long passion of starting my own fashion brand! I'm therefore so excited to study abroad with IES Abroad in Milan through their Business Studies and Internship program because I'll not only be able to grow as an individual, meet so many new people, and experience an entirely new culture/see new places, but I'll also be able to have hands-on experience in this huge financial district and fashion capital of the world! In my free time I love to alpine ski, read &amp; write, explore new restaurants and visit Boston, have fun with friends, and of course, shop!</p>

2021 Fall
Home University:
Bentley University
North Bennington, VT
Explore Blogs