Having returned from a most incredible study abroad semester only a little over a month ago, it's hard to imagine that you even experienced such a life-changing experience so recently. They tell you that your initial excitement of returning home will wear off quickly, and that you'll miss being abroad-and there couldn't be anything more true. USA, Gonzaga, I love you, but there are countless memories, and experiences that just can't be repeated here.
The hundreds of pounds of perfectly homemade pasta, and the fact that eating an entire pizza per person is expected in Italy. Oh yeah, and afternoons filled with Allantico's giant 5euro, hand-cut sandwiches topped off with REAL gelato. Nothing can compare.
2. Well-dressed people.
Obviously people look beautiful when they dress up, but in Italy people always look beautiful--even the children! It can be hard to go from guys in navy blazers and actual pants with belts, to guys on campus with gray sweatshirts and sweatpants. The classy level just isn't the same.
3. Learning how to be a local.
As a Pennsylvanian attending school in Washington, it's a constant process of learning how to fit in to the Pacific Northwest, but the process is totally different in another country. Looking like an Italian, avoiding the 'selfie stick' vendors, or even realizing that they don't drink take out coffee is a real struggle. But when you do finally have someone ask you for directions in Italian, you feel so accomplished-until you realize you have to remember how to respond...
4. Nights out.
Having one day less of class a week and possibly a lighter course load was really helpful in allowing you to relax a little, so are Italian nights out. While the drinking age is lower in Italy than the United States, and going to bars and clubs is a novelty for those underage, it's interesting to see how Italians enjoy themselves true cultural experience.
5. Learning from the source.
Being a history major means reading a lot about old places and seeing pictures, but there's nothing that sets the information and impact in more than visiting a place and seeing it for yourself. No matter what interests you, there's something for everyone to take away.
6. Constant adventure.
Often some of the most riveting encounters comes in daily activity. Going to the grocery store on the weekends and not understanding the cashier, attempting to haggle in the markets, or even attending a soccer match are always unique experiences.
7. Traveling with friends.
One of the most incredible aspects of study abroad is the ability to travel and explore new places wherever you want with whoever you want. Spending my entire spring break travellng across Ireland making friends and memories with some special people can't be beat.
8. Cheap flights.
Closely related, traveling with those friends is easy with the ease of airlines like RyanAir and Vueling (though I'd fear for your life slightly if you do decide to go along with them). You're hardly ever going to have another chance in your life to be immersed and able to visit so many countries with your friends by your side.
9. Living healthier...?
This one's a little debatable. While you walk everywhere and your food is much less likely to have the amount of preservatives and chemicals that American food does, the "wine cheaper than water" and effects of daily pasta and gelato may take a toll. But that's a worry for later.
Wanting to buy everything you see in London may put a giant hole in your pocket, but realizing you only spent the equivalent of 20$ for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a few presents in Prague can never be repeated in the US.
When you tried to speak a person's language and they automatically spoke back to you in English is sad, but there's something exciting about hearing their accents. (Nothing like having a ginger-bearded man reminiscent of a leprechaun teach you some Irish drinking songs that you can't understand all of).
12. 60 euro cent cappuccinos.
The only thing that got me through the school day was the vending machine in the student lounge that sold a variety of coffee drinks, hot chocolate, and tea for only 60 cents. Italy gets me.
13. Public Transport.
If there's one thing done right in Europe, it's the availability of buses, and most notably trains that just get you everywhere so quickly and usually aren't too pricy. You can take a train all the way to Naples, or even to a mountainous ghost town to hike. And Flixbus running from Florence, to Switzerland, to Germany. Wow.
14. Experiencing what is now simply a photo.
The easiest way to relive your memories of adventure abroad and to reflect is to look through all the incredible photos you took. As cheesy as it is, it's a life-changing experience and I'd do it all over again.
15. Walking past the Duomo.
As a study abroad student of Florence, the Duomo was a special place for us day or night, but I'm sure there are those special churches, monuments, or buildings in every city that just took your breath away no matter how many times you saw it.