Connor McGlone is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing and Supply Chain Management major at University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Connor shares some pre-departure thoughts and how he prepared for his semester abroad in Florence.
I am officially less than a week from arriving in Florence, Italy! The reality is finally starting to set in that I am going to be living in Italy for an entire three months. I am certainly nervous to find my way around, deal with the language barrier, and have to cope with missing all of my close friends and family, but I know there is so much more to be excited about. This will be my first time ever being in Europe and I plan on making the most of it. I cannot wait to experience the culture there, to try new foods, and to see all of the historic sites throughout Italy. Even though I am only taking four classes while I am there, I have a feeling I will learn more this semester than I have learned any semester in college.
I have done so much to prepare for this semester and I would like to share some of those things with you now. The first thing I did when I was preparing was reach out to fellow students who also studied in Florence. This was incredibly helpful to me as these students were able to give me a variety of different tips for places to visit, restaurants to go to, and even what classes to take. I let them talk for hours (they all loved reminiscing on their time in Florence so it was not hard for them to talk for hours) while I just listened and took notes. By the end of it I had pages of different tips that they gave me! Now I feel so much more comfortable going to and living in a different country and it just got me more excited for my trip after hearing them talk.
Another way I prepared was to read as much as I can about Italy and the CAPA program. Along with all of the useful information that CAPA has sent to me throughout the summer, I also bought two travel books about Italy. If you are interested in traveling to Florence specifically I recommend reading “Pocket Florence” by Rick Steves. If you are looking to learn about other places in Italy, “Frommer’s Easy Guide to Rome, Florence, & Venice 2018” was also a huge help to me. After reading both of these books, along with everything that CAPA sent me, I was able to find out a lot about Italy before I even get there! Some things I learned are that you do not tip the waiters/waitresses there and they have different outlets in Italy so I need to buy adapters before I leave. I learned these things, along with so many other tips, while reading up about Italy months before I leave. Doing my research beforehand has definitely been a big help.
My final tip on how to prepare for your trip is to start early! I got my visa at the very beginning of summer because the visa application process can be difficult so I did not want to risk anything. I also got my passport renewed six months beforehand since it takes weeks or even months for you to receive your passport. Getting these things done early has made the whole process a lot less stressful for me. Now I am less than a week away from leaving and I am mostly packed and even exchanged some US dollars for euros. Now I do not have to be stressed out the last week I am in the states and can spend that time with my family and getting excited for the amazing time I am about to have in Florence!
Connor's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.