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99 (Study Abroad) Problems

August 19, 2016

Hello to all of my lovely blog readers! I was doing some soul-searching about my next blog post and the content that was sure to thrill you all. As much as I am personally electrified by stuffing clothes into my luggage until the zippers get jammed, I reached the conclusion that a packing list might not incite the kind of passion I’m looking for. Instead, I have listed questions and concerns below that have run through my mind, the minds of those who have discussed my travel plans with me, and possibly your minds. This is definitely not intended to incite a panic, just maybe a final check to make you think about little stuff that you may have overlooked. Hopefully some of you can relate to these and soon move beyond the little issues in order to have a fantastic adventure in Rome!

With that being said: If you're having abroad problems I feel bad for you son, I got ninety-nine problems but this list ain't one


1.     What the heck do I pack?

2.     Which of these online packing lists are not sponsored by Chacos?

3.     Where do I find a legitimate packing list?

4.     Do I actually have to get an annoying medical procedure/form completed right now?

5.     How does this consulate website work?

6.     Where do I get a passport photo!?

7.     Why is a passport photo $14?

8.     So…do I have an appointment at the consulate or not?

9.     How do I vote abroad? (Answer: this amazing post IES Abroad made! Check it out and make your important voice heard in November)

10.  Roughly how long will I be on the phone with insurance company to ensure I can get all of my medications while I’m abroad?

11.  Will I be able to watch Netflix in Italy? I just got sucked into watching Madam Secretary and don’t think I can stop.

12.  Can I feasibly binge watch Stranger Things before I depart so that I can focus on classes? (Yes, you definitely can)

13.  Are my roommates and I going to get along? (Yes, hi Sasha/Hannah/Sofía!)

14.  Is ice a thing anywhere?

15.  How do I make sure that none of my roommates are serial killers?

16.  IES Abroad wouldn’t make me live with a serial killer, right? (No, they would not)

17.  What’s the deal with public restrooms in Italy/Europe in general?

18.  How do I learn how to flirt in Italian? My professor didn’t toss that in with the subjunctive lecture...

19.  Am I of legal drinking age in Italy? I’ve never had a sip of alcohol before

20.  How do I ensure that I’m a good neighbor to others living in my apartment/building?

21.  Will I be mocked for wearing Birkenstocks?

22.  Do I care if I am mocked for wearing Birkenstocks or other unique footwear?

23.  How do I eat endless amounts of pasta without gaining weight? (Oprah told me I could eat bread and maintain my figure, please explain)

24.  What does one do for exercise in Rome?

25.  What do I do if and when I get lost while traveling?

26.  Will Google Maps be available to me? I am helpless without the guidance of the all-seeing Google.

27.  Is it okay to publicly go for a run in Rome?

28.  I don’t like running, what are my athletic options?

29.  What happens to my beloved cell phone (#millenials)?

30.  Is my phone unlocked?

31.  Do I need a SIM card? Ack!

32.  How do I deal with catcalls and similar issues while abroad?

33.  How do I make my apartment feel more like home?

34.  How many bags should I bring with me?

35.  What is appropriate apparel to wear around Italy?

36.  How much ~leg~ can I show on a regular basis?

37.  What can I wear/not wear in churches- does this dress code apply to all churches?

38.  What are the minimum and maximum temperatures it reaches in Rome?

39.  How have I not learned how to quickly convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit?

40.  Do I need to bring a big coat?

41.  Am I a giant baby if I bring a big coat?

42.  How do I avoid being an ugly American? I don’t think I am, but what if it’s an accident?

43.  Do I need to bring bedding to my program? (No! Read the predeparture info!)

44.  What about towels though? (Buy them there! Or bring ‘em)

45.  I love this fancy shampoo that I use, will I be able to find it in Rome? Will my hair have to suffer endlessly?

46.  How many euros should I bring?

47.  Will I be able to withdraw euros without huge fees? 

48.  Did I just forget all the Italian that I have ever learned in my entire life in the span of two months?

49.  How do I brush op on my rusty Italian? (Try Duolingo, an old textbook, or the IES Abroad access to Rosetta Stone!)

50.  How many pairs of shoes are acceptable to bring?

51.  When do I tell my bank that I’ll be overseas so they don’t think someone in Italy is trying to steal from me?

52.  Where does one do laundry?

53.  Should I get an ISIC card?

54.  Do I bring my own bag to grocery stores?

55.  Are there lunch hours for stores?

56.  Are grocery stores open on Sundays typically? Is there a certain day other than Sundays that they are closed?

57.  How do I know if tip is included at restaurants?

58.  What is a customary tip to give?

59.  How do I know when I can use a credit card?

60.  Does my apartment have wi-fi?

61.  Where can I find wi-fi? It is my lifeblood.

62.  Where will my classes be located?

63.  Where do all my fans, family, and friends send me mail?

64.  Which products should I buy in Rome instead of packing?

65.  How many plug adaptors should I bring?

66.  Will I ruin electricity forever if I plug in some kind of hair styling device?

67.  What’s the commute like from my apartment to the center?

68.  Do I know anyone participating in IES Abroad Rome?

69.  Is it cool to drink tap water?

70.  What about water at restaurants, is there an option for something like a water cup? Is it rude to ask for this?

71.  My mom wants to send me a care package because she is super cool and nice, will I ever receive it?

72.  How long does it take to send/receive mail?

73.  How do I make sure I get credit for the classes I take while abroad?

74.  Any special vaccinations or anything I need to receive before going to Rome?

75.  What are important holidays in Italy?

76.  What is the public transit system like?

77.  How do I buy a ticket for the bus/train/shuttle? How much do they cost?

78.  How do I know If I am going the right way?

79.  What if I don’t speak Italian at all?

80.  What is a Permesso di Soggiorno?

81.  How do I acquire this mysterious Permesso di Soggiorno?

82.  Am I fashionable enough for Rome?

83.  What if I don’t like coffee?

84.  Do lattes exist, or is a cappuccino always the way to go?

85.  How do I make sure that I maximize my time abroad?

86.  What are some good landmarks around the IES Abroad center?

87.  Is there anything I don’t know about that might be considered taboo/rude in Italy?

88.  Will all of my friends and family at home forget about me?

89.  How do I avoid tourist-trap type restaurants/establishments?

90.  What are the scams to look out for and the areas to keep an extra hand on my wallet?

91.  Is it safe for me to travel alone?

92.  Will people ask me a lot of questions about Donald Trump and what’s going on with our elections?

93.  Is soccer/football big in Italy? How do I educate myself on this important sport?

94.  I hear dinner is typically eaten at later times, what if I’m starving at 6pm?

95.  Do I need to bring my passport with me when I go out?

96.  Is there some kind of Italian Walmart where I can buy everything ranging from the useful to the useless?

97.  What if I have dietary restrictions (lactose/gluten intolerance, nut allergies, etc.)?

98.  I feel like I can hold a conversation in Italian, but classes in a foreign language? I don’t know about that!

99.  Are we there yet?!

The answers to most of these questions can be found in your Predeparture information, using the world wide web, or asking your well-traveled friends. Good luck packing and otherwise preparing for this amazing adventure. I’m looking forward to meeting all of you in Rome!

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