CW: Did you record your experience through a blog or journal while abroad? Any tips from your own experience for others who wish to do the same?
CW: Did you travel outside of Florence? Where did you go?
CW: What are the challenges you faced and advice you can offer other students - in particular on traveling as a woman?
ASJ: As a woman traveling in Europe, you have to be more aware of certain issues. Even after being warned, I was still surprised with how often the women in my program faced harassment or unwanted looks while traveling. Some of this attention is impossible to avoid, but you can try to make yourself less noticeable by wearing more conservative clothing than you’re used to. The other issue is safety. Traveling in Europe is relatively safe, but I wouldn’t recommend traveling alone as a woman. Finding a travel partner in your program with similar travel goals as you is a much safer option than setting off on a train or bus by yourself.
CW: Share a few of your favorite budgeting tips that helped you stretch your money while traveling in Europe.
ASJ: For most college students traveling aboard, money is a huge concern and making your money stretch to achieve your travel goals is tricky. My biggest piece of advice is planning your trips and expenses as early as possible. Once you have lived in your study abroad city for one or two weeks, try to budget the rest of your trips. If you want to travel other places, rank them in order to save money for the ones you want to do most.
Eating out every meal in any city will not allow your money to stretch as much as you might want it to. Grocery shopping and cooking meals is more challenging in some countries but planning out your meals so you can eat in will save you money in the long run!
I would also look at the total costs of trips you plan to take. Just because you get a cheap plane or train ticket to a city you want to visit does not always mean that it’s the cheapest option. Many trains and planes will take you to locations near the city you want to visit but you still have to pay for a cab or metro ride. Check these details before you go on a trip. Stay organized when traveling to save money and avoid expensive mistakes.
CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself and the world around you?
ASJ: I have always been a homebody type. Living in another country for a semester was something that I had to push myself to do. After living in Florence for four months, I began to see the extreme value of this kind of an experience. I became much more laid back and flexible. You start to see how other people live around the world and it puts everything in your own life into perspective. I realized both how lucky I am to have been born in America and also the many things about America that I would like to see changed. The most important thing about travel abroad is that you start to see yourself as a citizen of the world, which allows you to develop new empathy.
CW: Did your study abroad experience have any influence over your career goals and aspirations for the future?
ASJ: One of the biggest surprises for me abroad was the fact that I visited a few cities that I could easily see myself living and working in. Being in business, I could very likely be placed in a career field where I am offered an opportunity aboard. Until my study abroad experience, I would have said that I wouldn’t have been comfortable with this kind of a position. Now I would not only be open to a career like this, but I would be very excited to move and live in another country. This was a huge change in my mindset but will also make me more valuable as an employee in the future.