Thinking about studying abroad? You’ve come to the right place. I spent four months studying at Loyola University’s John Felice Rome Center and it was one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve ever had. If you’re feeling a bit nervous or unsure about heading overseas for a semester, keep reading for some great tips on how to travel to Italy as a student.
1. Planes, Trains, And Automobiles
Unless you’re planning to spend your entire time at campus, you’ll need a way to get around. The great thing about Italy is that transportation is fairly cheap and that maps, roads, and travel routes are all easy to navigate. Outside of a few strikes, it’s pretty easy to get around and see most of Italy in less than a semester. I was able to visit Venice, Perugia, Pompeii, Rome, and more in less than three months. With the debut of Italy’s new bullet-train monorail system (wasn’t around when I was there), you could get anywhere in Italy in the blink of an eye. Beautiful trails are practically everywhere in Italy so students who are staying for the long terms should definitely invest in a bicycle.
2. Don’t Panic
Everything will work out, I promise. I was one of the last three people to get accepted into our study abroad program here at Loyola University Chicago, and, before I left for Italy, I had done no research whatsoever. Understand that the best part of traveling abroad is the process of getting lost. Italy is relatively safe and the culture takes a little getting used to, but, if you’re open-minded and proactive, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.
3. Dance, Sing, Live, Love, Laugh
Studying in Italy means that you’ll be committing a good chunk of your time to academics. Ensure that you set some time aside for travel and sightseeing. Don’t hang out at Ex-Pat places and explore as much as you can. There are plenty of unforgettable adventures that you can have during your stay in Italy. Festivals like the Carnevale di Venezia and Il Palio di Siena represent Italy’s unique and interesting culture. Most of these festivals are free to attend and, believe me, are quite unforgettable. Bring a camera.
4. Budget Blues
You’ve worked all summer to save for this trip but, between the flight and the tuition, you’re starting to realize that what you’ve got just might not be enough. I’m willing to bet that you can have just as much fun in Italy on a budget as you would with a million dollars. Luxury doesn’t necessarily mean happiness so just make sure you have a good plan and you’ll be alright. Avoid tourist traps by all means and take as much guidance as you can from people who have been there and done that. When it comes to budget, the most important thing is research.
5. Buon Appetito
You’ll find plenty of Americanized food in Italy, whether it be on your campus or just around the corner. Get out of your comfort zone and try something else, something new. There are plenty of dishes in Italy for all different types of palettes so if you find yourself sticking to hot dogs and cheeseburgers in Italy, it’s time for a change. Wine is also a large part of Italian culture, and, if you’re already studying abroad you owe it to yourself to try at least one wine-tasting.
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