Tips and Tricks for Study Abroad in Europe

Submitted by Elliana Olivo on the 2023 spring semester program in Rome, Italy…

Preparing for study abroad was definitely stressful but in more ways than one it is just like packing for a normal semester. With some exceptions of course, with weather and what you plan to do during your travels. For me, I would recommend bringing basic clothes that you can layer, so you will have different items for each season you will be away. You can always purchase more abroad and for less most of the time! As for clothing I would say to bring one pair of good walking shoes, interchangeable pants for any occasion as well as a winter coat/winter accessories. A portable charger, international plug converter, filtered water bottle and your favorite toiletries are a must bring. The European items are different from those in the United States and it is difficult to find the translation of items while in store. Unfortunately, Amazon Prime doesn’t exist here as well which was a huge culture shock to me! I definitely overpacked and recommend to anyone going abroad to leave room in their suitcase because you will at least buy a few things you want to bring home! (Submitted during Week 4)

Visiting Venice for Carnevale

This past weekend has been such a whirlwind of events traveling from Rome to Venice for the celebration of Carnevale. Carnevale is the last celebration before Lent with the freedom of masks, dance, food and drinks. My friends and I all purchased masks from street vendors, participated in the cultural dance and were able to learn about the historical events from tour guides, gondoliers and local Italians. In St. Lucia where we stayed, people were dressed in full masquerade costumes, masks and participated in shows on the street for the tourists. It was so refreshing to see so many people enjoy themselves and not care what they wore or how they acted in celebration. What was really interesting was the culture in Venice was completely different to that in Rome. Venice was really relaxed, flexible and celebratory compared to the typical city atmosphere of the Roman lifestyle. We embraced this feeling by going on a gondola ride, sunset boat ride to Burano and having no itinerary for the weekend just figuring it out as we went! (Submitted on February 13, 2023)

As I start packing for spring break, I have realized that as an American, I do not have the correct clothes to live in Europe without getting stares that I do not fit in. European culture is much more formal in regards to how they dress from day to day. Unlike in the US, Europeans do not wear sweatshirts, sweatpants or athletic clothing outside of the gym. That being said, we have been accommodating to the new culture shock wearing our “nicer” clothes everyday to class that we usually wouldn’t wear back home until a nicer occasion was brought up. In my opinion, I actually like this new way of living because I can actually wear the nice clothes that I have more often and I feel more put together throughout the day. I hope that I make a habit out of it and continue to dress similarly when I come back to the States. (Submitted on March 4, 2023)

Everyone says traveling around Europe is cheap, unfortunately that is not the case. Yes it is “cheaper” because you are already in Europe rather than going from the United States, however the flights are not twenty euro as you see on Instagram and TikTok. Travel and housing alone for each weekend trip I have been on are all well over two hundred dollars at least. European airlines also differ from those in America; the bag sizes are tremendously smaller and for a fee. A unique aspect about Europe though are the fast trains, they are around the same prices as a flight but easier to manage and cut the travel time from a regular train in half! A recommendation I have for traveling abroad for the semester is picking a country you want to travel the most in since international flights are more expensive as well as, when booking flights on Google use the map icon to show all flights from your country to see the cheapest destination for that weekend. Fortunately in most European countries hostels are available for a lower cost and the food cost is nothing compared to major cities in the United States. (Submitted on March 12, 2023)

Studying and sketching Italian architecture

Europe differs from the States, in not only the architecture but the streets themselves. The street signs are on the buildings making them less noticeable and most of them in Italy are faded, being ancient Rome and all. The streets are also cobblestone therefore you always need to watch your step and surroundings. In contrast, the style is elevated in Europe for everyday wear making heels on the cobblestone streets impractical but most women wear boots and heels daily. The United States is always improving and knocking down the old bringing in the new. Europe has kept similar styles throughout the centuries especially Rome is known for restoring and preserving what they can of Ancient Rome. Each new “Rome” is clearly shown by the elevation in which the buildings are on, the more recent the buildings higher above the water level they are. (Submitted on March 21, 2023)