I feel like a month abroad was the perfect amount of time for me to experience everything fully without being homesick too much. Although I got to experience a lot, I missed a few sights and am already planning my next trip over. I feel a lot more confident in traveling using public transportation and I feel like I would be able to get around without any problems. The biggest things that I missed while abroad were my family, air conditioning, and free water. Europe has very little air conditioning so I would definitely advise bringing or buying a well-working hand fan or battery-powered fan to walk around with and find shade whenever you can. I went in the hottest month, July, and they were experiencing a heat dome. Because of the scorching heat, I had to make sure that I was well hydrated, so I carried around a reusable water bottle with me everywhere. There are some water fountains scattered throughout the city, but some were hard to find or too far away. Rome had the most out of all the cities I visited. At the restaurants, you must pay for a water bottle for the table and specify still or sparkling water. Most of the time I could finish a whole bottle myself and, in some places, wine was cheaper than a soft drink or water bottle.
I miss everything about Italy. I miss how every building had beautiful architecture. I miss the care and pride that was shown in restaurants’ food. I miss the language and the well-behaved dogs everywhere. I miss exploring new cities and going on new adventures every day. I miss the friends I made during this program the most. Luckily the students a part of the program go to UA, and it won’t be long before we plan a reunion. I highly recommend a faculty-led program because it is with UA students and faculty, and you can continue the relationships you build. Faculty-led programs are easy with planning on the front end and the credits transfer directly and are graded like a normal class would be.
My study abroad program will be the only thing I talk about now and for anyone thinking about maybe doing it, do it! This has been the best experience in my life, and I could go on and on about all the valuable experiences I have gained through this program. Studying abroad requires a lot of responsibility and planning, but it is worth it in the end. I suggest going to one of the study abroad fairs and seeing what different programs are out there. There are a ton of options to choose from that will fit into any degree you are pursuing. Financially, apply to as many scholarships as you can as early as possible. Work hard on the essays and stay focused on the goal you are trying to accomplish. Once you are abroad, have an open mind. Plan as much as you can ahead of time and form connections early on in the program. I hardly knew anyone going into this program, but towards the end we were all friends, and it made the program a lot more fun. All in all, study abroad if you have the opportunity and if it makes sense for you. It is a once and in a lifetime experience and I feel like a better student and person because of it.