Hi friends! Welcome back to livinlikekenny. If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I crave traveling and adventures. Many of you don’t know this but my father is in the military. Because of him, I have had the opportunity to travel to many different cities between the US and Europe – Italy being my favorite.
One of my biggest dreams since high school was to study abroad in college. Now, being the family-lover that I am, I was too big of a chicken to study abroad for an entire semester, but after only studying abroad for a month, I later regretted that decision and wished I would’ve studied abroad for a longer period of time. But that’s besides the point; I studied abroad and had the most amazing time.
My study abroad adventure started with a short drive from Ohio to West Virginia. Upon arriving in West Virginia, I was approached by the other study abroad students I had never met before. I instantly grew more nervous as my family left me at the airport alone with these strangers. Within minutes, we were all following each other on social media and it was then that I knew I was going to be okay. The flight to NYC was short, thank goodness. It was in NYC that we met up with my good friend from Ohio University who would continue the journey with us. After a long and exhausting flight, we arrived in Italy! Now the adventure begins.
As soon as we landed in Italy, we exchanged our currency for euros and headed to our home in San Giovanni where we would spend the first two weeks of our adventure. I am sure you all are thinking “what/where is San Giovanni?” No worries, I was thinking the exact same thing. All you need to know is that it is the most beautiful and friendliest small town in Italy, and just a short train ride to Florence. What is the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city? EXPLORE!! And that’s exactly what we did. We went wandering around San Giovanni and came across the Las Vegas of Italy!! Las Vegas was a pool where all the San Giovanni locals spent their time swimming the day away and dancing the night away. We also spent a lot of our time here due to our short class days – and the amazing weather! If you are ever in San Giovanni, I definitely recommend spending a day at Las Vegas.
Studying abroad isn’t all fun and games though – yes we actually had class. Our first two weeks were spent studying Italian language and culture. A typical class day consisted of waking up at 6:30am, heading to a local cafe for espresso and your choice of a breakfast pastry, sitting in a small classroom for a few hours a day learning the Italian language, and then hopping on a train and heading to a new city to learn about the culture. Pisa, Florence, Lucca, Siena, and Fiesole were just a few of the cities we traveled to each day! We also spent an evening learning how to make different pastas, sauces, and bread! Taking a cooking class in Italy is a MUST. What is something Italy is known for? Yes, pasta, of course, but also wine!! We spent a day at a Chianti vineyard which was breathtaking. We were able to see what goes into making the wine, but also what goes into bottling the wine. And you can bet your bottom dolla we had ourselves a wine tasting, too; another thing to add to your Italy bucket list!
I will do a post entirely on my favorite Italian cities and things I recommend doing in each city later so keep an eye out for that.
Our final night in San Giovanni consisted of stuffing our faces at a local apertivo. I would compare an apertivo to a buffet in the US. At an apertivo, you pay for your beverages and then are allowed to eat as much as you want from the “buffet.” I recommend going to an apertivo or two when in Italy as they are a great way to save your money! I would only spend about 5 or 6 euro at each apertivo for an alcoholic beverage and all the food I wanted – great deal.
The next morning was an early morning as we started our adventure to ROME! Now I had been to Rome prior to studying abroad, however the views were just as beautiful as the first time. We spent our weekend running around Rome like the tourists we are – the Trevi fountain, Spanish steps, and the Colosseum were just a couple of the spots we made sure to hit during our weekend trip. After tossing my second coin into the Trevi fountain, I have high hopes for returning to Rome for a third time ❤
After a quick weekend getaway in Rome, we were off to Milan to spend our final two weeks. For anyone who doesn’t know, Milan is home to NABA, one of the best fashion/design schools in the nation. I was lucky enough to have taken an Italian designers course at NABA for the two weeks I was in Milan. My class consisted of traveling around Milan while learning about Italian designers. We spent most of our time in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II which is one of the oldest shopping malls in the world located in the center of Milan near the duomo. Amongst other classes offered at NABA are a Fashion Trend Scouting course, Fashion Design course, and even an Architectural Design course. If you ever have the chance to attend NABA, or even walk past NABA, be sure to take a look at the campus – it’s beautiful.
Although we spent most of our time shopping in Milan, we decided to take a spontaneous trip to Cinque Terre for a day. I, personally, love the beach and being by the water, so this trip was right up my ally! If you, however, enjoy doing touristy things, then I would recommend only doing Cinque Terre for a day. I wish we would’ve had a weekend to spend in Cinque Terre just because we were rushing to see each island, but it was still one of my favorite cities we visited! We arrived in Cinque Terre via train and then were able to hop from island to island via boat. Each island consists of their own restaurants and shops, as well as a beach area and hiking trails. Because we had a time limit, we really only had time to walk around each island for about an hour, grab some lunch, and layout on the beach. I definitely want to go back to Cinque Terre sometime soon so that I am able to enjoy each island more and hike the trails each island has to offer.
Throughout my month of studying abroad, I think my most favorite part was that I was on my own. Yes, we had some professors with us while in San Giovanni, but I was able to make my own decisions and decide how I wanted to spend my month abroad. No matter how long you’re studying abroad, you have all of the power to decide how you’re going to spend your time – are you going to travel each weekend? Where are you going to travel? What/where do you want to eat? Aside from my class schedule, I had so much freedom to explore the places I wanted to explore. One night in Milan, we wanted to do something different, so we looked up artists on tour and saw that Rihanna was performing in Milan one night – we all spent about 40 euro per ticket and went and saw Rihanna in concert IN MILAN! How awesome is that. Side note: if you’re going to see a concert in Italy, maybe even in Europe, just know the trains stop going at a certain hour so you will have to walk home (only took us about two hours to walk back l o l ) ANYWAYS, yes, study abroad. You will not regret it. I find myself looking back at my pictures wishing I could go back to running around Italy with some of the best people I have met. Yeah, you’ll leave with absolutely no money, but you’ll be leaving with life-long memories and friendships and souvenirs.
For those hesitating to study abroad, just hear me out. You will be nervous, especially if you have never left the country before, or even flown alone for that matter. But you will be okay. You will have the most amazing time with the most amazing people who share similar interests with you. The one thing I was worried about most was funding the trip, but I managed to make it work and so will you; save up your money, use financial aid, apply for scholarships, and you’ll be just fine.
Sorry this post was so long, but I hope you all enjoyed learning about my study abroad adventures. Of course we did other things than the events listed, but I just wanted to give you all a snippet of what it’s like to study abroad so that I don’t ruin it all for anyone thinking about going abroad. Traveling is so fun, even with strangers because we all left the best of friends. So go abroad. Or just travel abroad. OK.
Until next time…