Study Abroad Nerves!

Written by alirood May 12, 2022

It’s currently finals week for me at the University of Iowa and only twelve days before I leave for Italy. Between studying and spending time with friends, I’ve been anxiously preparing and thinking about my time in Italy. I am beyond excited about my experience abroad, but I definitely have a few nerves going into it.

I have never been to Europe before, so I have no idea what to expect. I’ve talked to multiple people who have shared their experiences, but no one talks about the little things. What is the food like? How does transportation work? How is the overall lifestyle different? I’ve been doing my best to prepare by reading blog posts and asking questions. I’ve also been learning some basic Italian to hopefully help with the language barrier. However, I know no amount of research or preparation can prepare you for what it is really like. As anxious as I am about all the little differences between the United States and Italy, it is also one of the things I’m most excited about experiencing first-hand.

Speaking of travel, I have never traveled or flown without my family. Navigating the airport, especially in a different country is something I’m quite nervous about. Thankfully there will be other CIMBA students arriving at the airport in Venice on the same day as me. This is a big sigh of relief. I’ve also never been on a flight longer than five hours. My flight to Italy is over twelve hours. The idea of sitting on an airplane for that long is hard to imagine. I’m making sure to download plenty of movies to watch and bring a few books to read. Also, crossing my finger I am able to get some sleep. Traveling over to Italy is a little nerve-wracking, but I know it will be a great learning experience.

Another nerve-wracking part about studying abroad is making friends. I do not know anyone else in the program at the time I’m writing this. Going to a different country, and not knowing anyone is the bravest thing I have ever done. I am in a couple of GroupMe’s that have allowed me to connect with other students going, but I have yet to meet any of them in person. I’m confident making friends will come easy, though, since almost everyone is in the same boat.

Packing for a month abroad is another small thing that I’m stressed about. I am a chronic over-packer. I’m the type of person that will pack three outfits for every day. Space is super limited, and I know I will be buying lots of souvenirs to bring back that I need to leave room for in my suitcase. My plan right now is to just bring one big suitcase and my personal item that I can take with me on the plane. I’m trying to be very realistic about what I will actually need and also figure out what I can buy there. Let’s just say it will be an absolute miracle if I get there and back with only one suitcase.

Overall, I am beyond excited to experience such a beautiful country while studying abroad. Going to Italy is something I have always dreamed of. I know once I get there everything will be great, but the preparation definitely comes with some nerves. I can’t wait to report back at the end of the program and be able to share how everything I have been anxious about went. I’m hoping I’ll have a few tips to share with future study abroad students experiencing the same emotions. Next stop, Italy!