That's So Sabotage: Struggles When Studying Abroad Week 1

Victoria Pembroke
September 15, 2021

While my life abroad may look like sunshine and rainbows on my TikTok, Instagram, VSCO, and even in many of my blog posts, let me tell you… it still sure has some not-so-pretty moments! If you read my pre-departure post about preparing for the highs and lows of studying abroad, then you know what I’m talking about: the inevitable lows we all experience from time to time. These lows are a little thing I’d like to call “Sabotages.” 

While my study abroad experience is absolutely amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I think it’s just as helpful to be real with everyone and share the lows just as much as I share the highs, if not just for a laugh but also to reassure others that things don’t always go according to plan and guess what? That’s okay! Who knows? Maybe even by reading this you’ll learn a thing or two and not make the same mistakes I did! And what’s even better is that I’ll be writing this down the day that they happen to me, so they’ll be fresh and full of emotion!

So… welcome to my new blog series: “That’s So Sabotage: Struggles When Studying Abroad.” I’ll be posting these weekly (assuming I have enough sabotages which something tells me that I might), and here is week one!

Sabotage #1, 8/31/21: After arriving at MXP airport and leaving baggage claim, I started looking for IES Abroad Staff. I saw the big “IES Abroad” sign and immediately nodded towards the people standing in front of it (I had a lot of luggage so couldn’t really wave). Then, one man holding a sign saw my nod and immediately came right up to me and started taking my luggage for me. Thinking it was an IES staff member, I let him, but then he started to ask me where my friends was, to which I responded that I was alone, which confused him, but he carried on. We began to walk away together when he asked me how my American Airlines flight was, which is when I realized something was wrong since I took Emirates. I told him I didn’t take American Airlines, then he asked if I was the girl that his sign named, to which I laughed and said “No!” We both laughed it off and he was very kind about it, actually taking fault over it, but I really hadn’t been in Milan for more than a half hour and I was already about to take someone else’s private driver and become lost! (Rest assured I found the IES Staff just moments afterwards and was OK).

Sabotage #2, 8/31/21: I took a taxi from the airport to my residence at Collegio di Milano that was about 30 minutes and cost me $140 USD. RIP my wallet. Definitely got scammed out of that one.

Sabotage #3, 9/1/21: Jet lag reallyyy got to me and I ended up waking up at 10:15am to our IES Abroad staff member at Collegio banging on my door to wake me! We were supposed to all leave at 10am to go to our first orientation session, but I ended up making the group late and having to go even later than them, arriving a half hour late to the session… whoops! My advice to any of you: jet lag is real and DON’T FORGET TO SET YOUR ALARMS!!

Sabotage #4, 9/1/21: Sooo Collegio di Milano really is a great residence, but they provided us with no towels and an itchy (and ugly in my opinion) blanket for our beds! So today, I had to spend over $300 at Zara home cause I simply could not find home stuff anywhere!! Finding towels actually proved to me sooo difficult in Milan which was really odd, but I simply could not wait another day to Amazon anything. So expensive Zara Home was the only option. RIP my wallet pt. 2

Sabotage #5, 9/2/21: Got on the wrong metro to class today and it took us 10 minutes outside the city into the countryside!! Then we had to wait another 15 minutes for the train back to come. Granted, we showed up 15 minutes late to our first Italian Intensive class.

Sabotage #6, 9/2/21: Returned home from a night out and started taking my rings out over the sink in my bathroom, and of course, I dropped my favorite one down the drain. My advice: never take jewelry off over the sink.

Sabotage #7, 9/3/21: I woke this morning ready to put the SIM card I had purchased the day before in my phone. Everyone in the program who had replaced their SIM so far said it took 4-6 hours for it to start working, so I figured if I did it right when I woke up then I’d be able to have it working by the end of my Italian class that day. Yet, when I woke up I couldn’t find the new SIM card ANYWHERE. I looked everywhere but finally realized that I must have accidentally tossed it out with some Amazon boxes. So, I had to purchase an entire new SIM card that morning (RIP my wallet pt. 3) then was almost late to class because of it!

Sabotage #8, 9/4/21: So I thought I ordered  =cute throw pillows for my bed from Amazon Italy but I finally got them today and they ended up being only the pillow CASES. My advice: be sure to translate the ENTIRE amazon page to English. Even if you think you know what you’re getting, news flash: you don’t!

Sabotage #9, 9/6/21: Some friends and I finally found a big enough group to go to Positano next weekend with and we officially booked the VRBO and my train tickets!! Exciting right? WRONG. Four of the guys going with us backed out last minute and we were all totally scrambling and stressing cause now it was too expensive for us and we nothing was refundable. It was an extremelyyy stressful day but we ended up recruiting six more people to come with us anyways so all ended up being okay in the end! Still sabotage though. Ugh, the stress…

So, those were my sabotages for the week. Important thing to remember: I’m still here and I’m still kicking it and loving life! No matter what your abroad experience may throw at you, just remember that you’ll be okay!

After all, when life gives you lemons…throw them away and drink an aperol spritz!

Until next week, ciao :)

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
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