I know it can be scary not knowing what to expect when you go abroad. But after enjoying my study abroad trip so much, I thought I could offer some advice to students studying with CIS Abroad specifically in Italy.
So here are my 4 tips to make the most of studying abroad in Italy with CIS Abroad:
1. Take advantage of the trips/experiences provided
CIS Abroad provides so many opportunities to do amazing things during program excursions (scroll down past the housing section to see excursion examples). Whether it’s cooking classes, pizza dinners, hiking, or day trips, my first piece of advice is to take advantage of these opportunities. Your site director puts these activities together for you to enjoy. Don’t worry, these events are included in your program fees! You may get to experience something you never would have thought to do by participating in these events. I highly recommend these events if you are clueless as to what you should do one night.
2. Ask your site director for recommendations
If you’re like me, your CIS Abroad program may be the first time you’ve ever visited Italy. Because this is my first time in Italy, I had no idea where to go, what to eat, and what to do sometimes.
In those times, I turned to my site director. Your site director will be able to give you amazing recommendations for a lot of things in your city. This is Alessandro, my site director in Florence. On the second night in Florence, I had no idea where I should go to eat dinner and I wanted a place that would not disappoint. So, I turned to my site director, and he gave me an amazing recommendation. Trust them, they know exactly what they are talking about and they may even be from the city you’re in.
3. Just keep walking
One thing about Florence that was very different from my hometown is that everything is pretty walkable. I would walk to class, lunch, meet with friends, dinner and mostly everywhere else. My third piece of advice is to embrace walking. Walking is not only efficient when your destination is close, but also entertaining because it allows you to explore the city. By walking around Florence, I saw so much more of the city. On some weekends I would just pick a day to walk with my friends and that’s how we found so many cool restaurants, cafes, and shops. It will definitely be tiring at first, but you will get used to it. And soon you’ll be able to get around the city with little or no help from Google Maps.
4. Use the train to travel outside the city
Europe has one of the most efficient train systems I have ever seen and you should take advantage of it.
The train is a really inexpensive and easy way to travel throughout Italy (and outside of Italy) and to explore. One day, a friend of mine and I decided that we wanted to go to Pisa. We were able to just hop on a train and be there in an hour.
The train really is a great way to get out of the city you are studying in, and to explore the country even more, I couldn’t recommend it enough.