By Soleil Roth, Foster Undergraduate who participated in an exchange with Bocconi University in Milan, Italy
After being home for almost a month now, I can confidently say that I am having exchange withdrawals. While being home is great and dandy, the food, the places, the people and incredible experiences I had while abroad cannot be compared to my daily life here in Seattle. While I get to recount over most of my memories in my travel blog www.somewheresoleil.com, I know my time has ended and it’s a new season for new students studying abroad and are probably more eager than ever for the experience of a lifetime.
So to those student, for those reading for those thinking about going or planning to go on a study abroad trip, here’s a few pieces of advice I learned while abroad:
Pay for safety Being a college student, we all know how prevalent saving money at all costs is. Whether it’s hosteling or buying the cheapest bus ticket, understand that there is no discount worth paying if it puts you in a dangerous or uncomfortable situation so be smart and pay the extra!
Never forget your passport You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but hint, people (cough I cough) forget their passport sometimes and it doesn’t make traveling as much fun or easy anymore.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes It’s kind of inevitable going abroad, being so independent and self-reliant in a completely unfamiliar environment, but with every mistake or mishap, take it as a learning opportunity to grow and continue on more successfully in the future.
Immerse yourself in the culture Don’t come to Italy and go searching for Starbucks or spend your time watching Netflix in your bed. Get outside and explore the city, go to farmer’s markets, go to local cafes, try to learn the language and speak with natives; there is so much culture and community around you that it would be more than disappointing to miss out on every opportunity you have and not truly experience your city to the fullest.
Try everything That weird looking food? Try it. Not sure how to take the metro? Well go take it. Never been to an opera? Go see it. Want to try something but never have? Well now is your chance. Every food, song, person, show, activity or event that is presented to you, take advantage of and enjoy what endless possibilities you have in front of you.
Remember where you came from As you go abroad and are eager to learn about all new cultures, one thing one mustn’t forget is their own. Be open to learning about different perspectives and ways of living, but be sure to share your own culture and lifestyle to contribute to the group.
Have fun! I think this may be the easiest one on the list, but had to throw it in there just to be certain no one forgot!
All in all, thanks Foster for a great exchange and for giving me the opportunity to cross of just a little bit more of my world travel list.
And for my last piece of advice, if you are considering or thinking about going abroad but are unsure, I one-hundred percent, without a doubt, absolutely, say do it.