14 days. That’s the countdown until I leave for Rome. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. Study abroad is something I’ve been looking forward to, and planning for, since my freshman year of college. To finally have the opportunity to spend 12 weeks in Italy is very exciting. Of course, I’m nervous about certain things. Remembering 4 years worth of Italian classes, navigating public transportation, and balancing classes with exploring new places to name a few. But I’m looking forward to so much more. To being back in Rome for the first time since I was 12, to hopefully seeing my family in Italy, to meeting new friends from different universities, and getting to travel around Europe. For me, study abroad is about so much more than taking classes in a new environment. It's a chance to explore a different part of the world and meet new people. A chance to shift my worldview and learn new things about certain cultures and even myself.
But how do you prepare for a semester abroad? How do you make sure you have everything you need to explore new places and meet new people? To live across an ocean from everything and everyone you know? Well, the two month winter break certainly helps. It’s been one of my longest stretches at home since I started college and I’m definitely enjoying the downtime. It’s also been helpful for packing and brainstorming what I might need. After researching the climate in Rome and reading some study abroad packing tips (thanks IES Abroad Rome ambassadors!) I decided that packing items that can be layered and mixed and matched was the best plan. So I assessed my closet and made a list of what I needed. Since then, I’ve been filling out my closet and buying a few necessary items. Namely, a travel backpack for weekend travel. The hardest part with that was finding one that’s not too big - I don’t want to encourage myself to pack too much. Finding that balance, a bag that’s not too big but not too small, was difficult. But thanks to Amazon reviews, a few travel articles, and comparing different brands I think I found a good backpack. The other challenge will be to not overpack my suitcase. But the reminder of souvenirs and new clothes I’ll buy is definitely helping!
That’s the physical side of things, but on the mental side I just keep reminding myself what an amazing adventure this will be. Being nervous about navigating the city and classes is okay and I know within a few days (or a week) of being in Rome, I’ll feel more settled. Missing the States & dealing with culture shock may be harder, but I know that I’ll push through and that there is an amazing support system available to me as well.
There’s much to look forward to and fret over with two weeks to go until I leave for Rome. The most important thing to me though is that I will soon have my bags packed & I’ll be ready to go on this incredible adventure!