Dear Future UNH in Italy Student,
You are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. I think it’s important to remember that most people won’t get the opportunity to live and study in another country. Having that in the back of my mind helped me keep things in perspective while I was abroad.
It’s hard to mentally prepare for study abroad because you really have no idea what to expect before you arrive. But trust me: that’s one of the best parts.
Sometimes it can get hard. Being away from home, away from your family, and away from your friends is never easy. It’s strange knowing that life goes on without you and that people are just going about their business while you’re thousands of miles away. You’ll miss everyone. You’ll miss your bed and your shower. You’ll miss your dogs more than you thought possible (and you’ll swoon over every passing dog on the street). You’ll miss peanut butter (you should probably pack some). People in your group will go through hard times, both in their lives here and at home.
But then think to yourself, “I’m in Italy.” You’ll try every gelato flavor you could dream of. You’ll learn how to communicate with people who don’t speak your language. The sights you will see are more beautiful than anything you expected (and you’ll be upset the pictures don’t do it justice). There will be so much pasta and wine. You’ll learn that you don’t really need to have your phone in your hands 24/7, that experiencing the world around you is so much more important. Ascoli Piceno will become home for you. You’ll learn how to navigate public transportation around Europe in several foreign languages, and it will be scary, stressful and confusing, but you’ll be so proud of yourself when you get the hang of it. You’ll make 21 new best friends.
The group of UNH students you’re traveling with may be strangers at first, but you will get to know them so quickly. They will have your back through the emotional ups and downs of the trip, and they know how you’re feeling because they’re going through the same things with you. When you get home, you’ll want to tell everyone about your trip, but words and pictures can’t always paint the story you want to tell. The people you travel with will be the ones who really get it, and they’ll be at UNH when you get home to reminisce with, and I think that’s so awesome. We all start out as strangers, but we have so much in common and were brought together across the globe.
In short, the trip will be like nothing you’ve experienced before, and it’s a truly life changing experience. Enjoy yourself, and take nothing for granted.
A Fellow World Traveler