As my program draws to a close, there are two big challenges that come to mind. The first challenge that I encountered on this trip was homesickness. After about a week of being abroad, I started to miss my friends and family, my dogs, my own bed, and just the general comforts of home. It’s a perfectly natural thing, and most people who study abroad experience it at some point in their program. The best advice I can give to anyone who is experiencing this feeling of homesickness is to put down your phone, and try your best to enjoy the experience. The more time I spent on my phone, the worse I felt. The phenomenon of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is a real problem, and it’s only exacerbated by scrolling through the Instagram’s of your friends from home and seeing all the cool stuff that they’re doing without you. I experienced this, my roommates experienced this, and I’m sure that countless others did as well. The best way to fix it is to stop worrying and enjoy all of the cool stuff that YOU’RE doing on your program! It’s an easy fix and you’ll definitely thank yourself later.
The other main challenge that I encountered on my program was time management. I took three classes, but they all came with a relatively heavy workload (approximately 3 hours of homework/night). This really wasn’t so bad, but I also wanted to enjoy my time in Italy (after I got over the homesickness). With all of the sights that Italy has to offer (including the beach), it was sometimes hard to find the motivation to study. What I found worked best for me was to take my homework somewhere outside of my apartment to do it. This solution allowed me to feel like I was still getting to see and explore Italy, and also get my school work done at the same time. It took some time to adjust to, but ultimately I think I was able to find the right balance of work and play.