Earlier in the semester, I made a post with some advice about coming abroad, pertaining to what to pack, what to spend, what to do. However, I also stressed that I had only been here a few weeks and probably had no idea what I was talking about. Well here I am, 14 weeks in, and I have some more tidbits of advice for you- yet I will also stress that once again, I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Feel free to take some of this to heart anyway.
1. Don’t bother planning a budget. Being the OCD planner that I am, before I got here, I tried to make a budget plan per months- how much I would spend on food, travel, etc. I came here on my own dime and I was trying really hard to make sure I didn’t have to Skype my mom and beg her to Western Union me some cash, as I had to do in Barcelona a few years ago. (Sorry Mom). Anyway, a detailed budget plan in itself is impossible, but what you should do is have an idea of where you’re money is going to go. For example, I decided that I wanted to travel- a lot. As in every weekend a lot. So I told myself that okay, I’m not going to buy Italian clothes and I’m not going to go out to eat that much or buy alcohol at bars, and instead, that money is going to go to my weekend trips. There. Budget done. BOOM.
2. Try to plan other’s visits before you get here. Knowing that your mom/boyfriend/best friend is coming this week, then another this week, and another this week, makes homesickness fade a little more. When you look at the calendar and you try to plan trips with your newfound friends, it’s easier if you know in advance what weeks are out of the question so aren’t left wishing you had gotten on another trip.
3. And on that note… Don’t buy a ton of shit. No seriously. Okay, yes, you absolutely positively must have those plain black tights.. the same exact ones you can get at home for five bucks. When you’re here a long time, it’s easy to get used to the euro and forget that it’s not the same as the currency you brought over. Everything is more expensive, so save some things for when you get back home.
4. GO TO CLASS. It seems that for many study abroad schools, they give out little work, but the attendance is a must. At home we have an attendance policy too… but it falls more within the realm of “I’m REALLY sorry Prof” and that absence gets conveniently forgotten. Here, it’s not like that. You miss a class, you miss a class, and for me, if I miss more than three I fail. So set the extra alarm. Pay extra attention to your syllabi when planning a trip. Trust me, an art history class is much better off passed in Florence than it is in the States.
5. Bring extra chargers. I know many people who have broken or blown out their chargers and had to go a little bit without their phones or laptops and then pay obscene shipping charges to get new ones sent here. Save yourself the trouble and if you can, bring chargers specifically made for Europe (Apple is great with this so you don’t need an extra converter) or just extra converters and chargers. You’ll be glad you did.
That’s all I have to share for now. CIAO!