3 Things I Wish I Had Known 1 Month Ago

Written by jessicaboucher February 16, 2024

It has been almost one month to the day since I first arrived in Italy. It is hard to believe that we are 1 ⁄ 3 of the way through this experience, as it feels like I have been here forever, but somehow not very long at all. I have already learned so many things, one of them being that I was not entirely prepared for the things to come. For that reason, this blog will be about the three things I wish I had known one month ago.

1. Don’t overpack, but avoid underpacking.

One thing I remember being extremely aware of while packing for this trip was the amount of luggage I was allowed to bring. When going abroad, you are pretty much restricted to one checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item. I was extremely cautious in making sure that I did not overpack, and felt pretty satisfied with myself when I managed to remain below the weight limit on my bag.

However, since arriving I have wished countless times that I packed differently. While overpacking is something to be avoided, underpacking is equally unfortunate. Not having the proper clothes for certain occasions can put you in a sticky situation, and not having enough clothes gets annoying fast. Even though European shopping may be fun, expenses rack up pretty quickly. For example, the jacket I am wearing in this photo was something I had to purchase here (unfortunately it is only one of many other clothing purchases since).

In all honesty, the truth is that there is no perfect packing guide, but I certainly wish I had done a little more research before diving in.

2. However much your budget is, prepare to spend more.

Traveling through Europe once you are already here is indeed cheaper than coming from the United States. However, I do not think I would describe it as “cheap”.

The past two weekends were our first opportunities to visit wherever we wanted to go. For the first weekend, a majority of the students in the program wound up visiting Venice. This was a super cool trip, and relatively affordable since CIMBA is located so close to Venice. The second weekend was a four-day travel weekend, so I visited Vienna and Salzburg with a group of friends. I had an absolute blast and found Vienna to be one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. However, my wallet is crying for help after that trip.

Once you add up all of the expenses that come with travel, you may find that it costs more than you expected. Of course, this is completely relative to the destination, but it has made me realize that I will most likely surpass my original budget.

3. Create a list of your top destinations before leaving the United States.

When it comes to deciding where to travel each weekend, I am truly spoiled for choice. There are so many beautiful cities and countries right at my fingertips that sometimes it feels nearly impossible to decide where to go. And although I know I am incredibly fortunate to have even these three months, it is somehow still not enough time to see everything I want to see.

Furthermore, once you mix in travel buddies, it becomes doubly complicated. Everybody has their destinations they would like to see more than anywhere else, and sometimes these locations don’t overlap. The good news is that there are bound to be other students who would like to see the same things as you and it should be no trouble at all to find someone to travel with.

Planning travel may be the most stressful aspect of this semester so far (yes even over classes). I wish that I had created a more concrete list of the places I would like to go before leaving the United States. I know that I will not get to see every single place I hoped I would, but this would have given me a better idea of which places were my top priority.