Jumping headfirst into a new life abroad may come with some surprises. While students get settled and immerse themselves in their new home, they might realize some shifts in daily life!

Something that you might notice right away is that you can no longer eavesdrop on conversations in public places. Almost everyone speaks English in Rome, so it won’t be hard to communicate when needed. While walking around leisurely it’s background noise you don’t understand. This being said, it’s kind of soothing. When you do get the chance to interact with Italians it’s nice to use their language and pick up new skills or phrases.

Bring shoes that are comfy and cute! One thing that may come as a surprise is your step count for the day. Some days I was walking over fourteen miles, just adventuring. Rome is a very walkable city, and many of the main attractions are located within a relatively small area. However, this means that students might be walking a bunch without even realizing it.

Another random but unexpected situation in Rome is laundry. The cycles are typically two hours, which is a lot longer than home. Unlike many other parts of the world, Italian homes often do not have dryers. This means that laundry is hung up to dry, which can be a bit of a challenge for those who are used to simply throwing their clothes in the dryer. However, you adapt to it quickly and never look back. (If you really struggle there are always laundry mats that have dryers! There are always solutions, you just have to look for them!)

A couple other things that took me a bit by surprise were using cash more often, using less paper towels in restrooms, paying for water at a restaurant, taking taxis instead of Ubers, dressing up for daily activities, and how late people stayed out at nights!

Some things might not surprise you here and may fit your expectations entirely. Many of us found out that we didn’t need everything that we brought with us. Italian fashion is very different from what you might be used to, and you may find yourself buying new clothes and leaving some old behind. Let’s just say the four-story Zara and I are now best friends.

A common concern about going abroad is making friends. But, it’s okay to come alone! Everyone is in the same boat when they get to a new country, all alone, not knowing anyone. Everyone is bound to make friends, it just might take a little effort and a step outside your comfort zone. It shouldn’t surprise you that everything works out, and you will find your people!

Don’t be surprised if your priorities shift! At my home university I’m an academics and a gym girl. In Rome, I found myself spending more time making memories than studying, and that’s perfectly okay!  While school is still important, experiencing a new culture and making the most of my time abroad became my top priority.

Studying abroad may come with random surprises and shocks, but you just embrace them. Regardless of what comes your way, it will always work out!