I recently learned that my younger sister, Rachel, will study abroad in Italy next semester through her school, Spring Hill. She has never been abroad before ad doesn’t even possess a passport! This led me to think about some of the things I wish I’d known before studying/travelling abroad for the first time (and second and third and fourth… times). Having previously served on a student panel for students who plan to study abroad in South Korea, I feel fairly well-equipped to give tips about studying abroad. However, I haven’t been to Italy, which I’m sure has nuances of its own.
For my sister, who will be travelling with a group of students from her university, some of whom have travelled extensively and plan to stay in nice hotels (compared to my solo-hostelling), I just hope that she makes sure to meet plenty of locals, exploring Bologna and immersing herself in Italian culture. I was really happy when I heard that she plans to study a bit of Italian before she goes, as this will help her to forge new connections more easily with local people. She is unafraid of trying new things and is ready to jump into new experiences—the most important quality to have when studying abroad. I’m sure she’ll have a life-changing experience, and I can’t wait to travel with her in the future!