Throughout my study abroad experience, I have learned a lot about myself and have faced some challenges. I think that one of the biggest challenges I have faced throughout this semester is time management/planning. Before coming to Florence, I expected it to be easy to leave on the weekends to do my supplement traveling. What I have found is that traveling can be difficult and time consuming! Students do not expect it to take a lot of energy, but it does. Between taking train, buses, and planes, it is a lot! There is a lot of planning that goes into studying abroad that you must be prepared for. I have not gotten home sick for the states, but when I leave on the weekends I find myself getting home sick for Florence as well as wanting some down time.
Because my weekends are very full of traveling, this also means that my weekdays have been just as busy but filled with preparation, planning, and getting my academics in order (school comes first!). I have gotten into a routine of getting all of my homework and studying done Monday through Thursday so I have the weekend to fully immerse myself in my travels. So far, I have taken weekend trips to Switzerland, Rome, Milan, Cinque Terre, Siena/San Gimignano, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Of these locations, Amsterdam has been my favorite and I would recommend it to anyone studying abroad in Europe in the future.
Another challenge with traveling on the weekends is all of the planning that goes into it! I would definitely recommend to future study abroad students to research far in advance the locations you are traveling to so that everything can get booked and you can make the most of your time. A mistake I made that can be learned from was trying to get tickets to the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. I went online a month in advance (which I thought would be plenty of time) and it was already booked every day for the next two months! Had I done more research ahead of time, I would have found that it says online to book two months in advance at the very least. Other places that I would recommend booking ahead of time include the Vatican and the Colosseum in Rome as well as any specific dinner places that you have in mind. If you are considering going, that means other people are as well! Even though I have faced some challenges this semester, it has been a huge period of growth. I am learning to become comfortable with traveling and planning and wouldn’t change a thing about my experience thus far.