An Overthinker’s Guide to Pre-Departure: 3 Tips to Ease the Nerves

Zoe Flores headshot
Zoe Flores
January 27, 2024

Class Registration

When I first chose the IES Abroad Rome program, I found myself clicking around the website. The section that I kept finding myself returning to is the class list. My fascination with the class list stems from excitement over the topics and the opportunities. There is a wide variety of classes ranging from Italian Culture and Cuisine to The Last Days of Pompeii. Along with engaging topics, the classes also include course-related trips throughout the semester. These trips take place around Rome and are a great way to explore the city! 

The class list is found below the housing section of your program’s main page. I recommend reading the syllabus to gain a better understanding of what the course will entail! Though it may not be fully updated, it will be helpful for you to narrow down your classes before pre-registration. Once it got closer to pre-registration, the IES Abroad team sent out the course schedule. It showed every course offering along with the class time. In my case, there were multiple sections offered for all of the classes I chose. I used an online schedule maker to facilitate my decision process. As an over-thinker does, I made more than one schedule with my classes. For me, it was a queue process, similar to TicketMaster. I got a bit frazzled during the process because I didn’t realize we had to pick alternative classes in addition to our pre-registration classes. I recommend looking at a few alternative classes that can work with your schedule. I also learned that it would tell you if a class was full so don’t stress! 



I’m notoriously known by my family as an overpacker. Studying abroad would be the ultimate challenge for my packing. I have a bad habit of bringing things I won’t even wear while on vacation, but I like having options. I had a bit more room for error because I will be living abroad for four months. I first started the packing journey by researching the weather in Rome during the spring and even watched videos of locals and their daily attire. I learned that Rome has real seasons–unlike Texas. Rome has a Mediterranean climate,  meaning the winters are cool and have rainy days, whereas the summers are dry and sunny. Since I will be in Rome for the spring, I focused on packing clothes that I can layer. 

To make the process easier on myself, I decided to pack three days in advance. The first day I focused on warmer clothes for mid-April through June. My second day of the packing frenzy consisted of researching what clothes to wear in February through early April. I referenced different local, Italian TikTokers and took note of their attire. I noticed many people were wearing jeans, comfortable shoes, plain tops and jackets. Due to the cobblestone road, locals recommend comfortable, everyday walking shoes. My third day of packing consisted of toiletries and anything else I could think of. To keep track of everything I had already packed, I made a list of my clothes. I recommend making a list because it's a great visual to reference when in doubt. 


Bucket List 

I love to plan, I’m one of those people that just genuinely enjoy going out exploring with a goal in mind. So, I started a bucket list of places to visit while I’m in Rome! The bucket list has been ongoing since the beginning of January. Rome has always been a dream for me and since I will be there for a prolonged period of time, I’m going to take advantage of it!

I started off my list looking for restaurants that were recommended by locals. I found myself scrolling through TikTok looking for inspiration on where to start. I looked up “Local Favorites in Rome'', “Must Visit Restaurants in Rome'', and other phrases similar to those. My feed was filled with endless videos about the appetizing Italian cuisine. In addition to must try restaurants I also went on a hunt for the most iconic museums in Rome. The city is basically a museum in itself, but I searched for THEE museums of Rome. I switched over to Google for this task and read lots of travel blogs. The travel blogs were able to help me decide on museums that were must sees while in Rome. I ended up finding my way back to TikTok looking up at the museums and the videos were amazing! Finally, I started looking at the best places for weekend trips. Since I will have a roommate we decided we would have to take a few weekend trips during our time abroad. I first started with a map of Italy and explored the cities near Rome that would be accessible by train. I’ve learned that the Eurail is one of the best ways to travel amongst cities in Italy. The train stretches across 33 different countries along with affordable prices! The website is also fairly user friendly so I recommend playing around with it a bit. I decided I definitely want to visit a few different countries in addition to the cities within Italy. 

Overall, the pre-departure process is kind of hectic, but doable. I recommend really focusing on these three things throughout the process as they are fundamental to a successful study abroad experience. As a final note, I am still overthinking as I write this blog. Now my overthinking is more focused on whether or not I am over prepared, but it's better than being underprepared!   

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Zoe Flores

My name is Zoe Flores and I am a junior at Trinity University. I am an anthropology major with a double minor in political science and museum studies. I enjoy visiting museums, film photography, and collecting vinyls! 

2024 Spring
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