5 Things I Learned When I Studied Abroad In Urbino, Italy
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5 Things I Learned On Study Abroad In Urbino, Italy

My study abroad series, part one.

View of the hills of Urbino, Italy
Julia Reese

For the past month, I have had the pleasure of studying journalism in Urbino, Italy. Urbino is a small town in the central Marche region of Italy, and while it is unknown to many foreigners, I felt very lucky to be able to call this place home for 29 days and immerse myself in the culture that it offered. Through this experience, I learned more than I ever thought I would. Not only did I have my first true professional journalism experience, which allowed me to expand my skills as a writer, photographer, and videographer, and left me with a product that I am incredibly proud of, but I also grew as an individual. I didn't know how much living in a foreign country could change me as a person until I truly experienced it, and while I learned a lot more than 5 lessons, here are 5 of the most valuable ideas that I took away from this experience.

1. Don't panic if you haven't really made friends and you have only been there for 3 days.

You are surrounded by people who are just like you. Individuals who are a part of this new experience, in a foreign country, with no boundaries set. Of course, you haven't really made a connection with anyone yet, you barely know where you are! I found myself feeling anxiety three days into my study abroad because I was worried that I wouldn't find people I could really bond with. Now that I have concluded my adventure, I realize that there was no reason to be nervous. Once all of us had found our place in this new city, we were able to call it home. And as soon as we had established our home away from home, we were all able to bond and grow together as individuals. I am incredibly grateful for the people I met and had the opportunity to go through this experience with, and I feel very lucky to call them my friends and be able to take these relationships home and continue them beyond Urbino.

2. Always be prepared.

This was a valuable lesson I learned as a journalist. When you have to travel to seek information, you never know what surprises might come about. My project partner and I traveled over an hour for a single interview, only to find another interview opportunity at the same location. In this situation, we didn't have the proper camera to film, so we had to work with what we had. While this challenged us as journalists and we were able to create successful work simply by using an iPhone, being readily prepared would have given us the opportunity to decide what source we wanted to use to capture the story we needed. This was one of the first times I have truly seen the value in the statement "Always be prepared," and I know this is a lesson that I will take as I continue on into my career.

3. Embrace the culture and the area you are in.

As exciting as it may be that the Netflix in Europe has different shows than the one in America, how often do you get the chance to travel to a brand new country for a lengthy amount of time!? It is hard to pull ourselves away from a technology-heavy lifestyle, and I in no way see any harm in embracing the alternate technology that was offered. But to me, going abroad doesn't involve staying inside and binge-watching a show that you may not be able to see at home. It is going for a walk and getting lost amongst the beautiful architecture, going to get a glass of wine and appetizers with your classmates, stopping in at the local shops.

Traveling abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and living it more as a citizen of the town and less as a tourist makes it even more special. Meeting and bonding with the locals was one of the best parts of Urbino because we got to see how true Italians live. You have a limited amount of time abroad, it isn't going to last forever. So take the time to experience as much as you can.

4. Eat too much.

You're abroad. The culture is different, which means that the food is different. Being in Europe, the non-GMO food is probably better for you. So yes, you may eat gelato every day because there may be a shop roughly 30 feet from where you are living...but live in this new experience. Enjoy the extra glass of wine, or a little too much pasta, worry about the effects later.

5. Explore.

As I shared above, living like a local really changed this entire experience for me. I am one to usually pretend like I'm a local even if I have only been in my new location for 10 minutes, I don't like to make it known that I'm a tourist. However, this time I actually became a local. When shop owners begin to recognize and say hello, when individuals you have interviewed and spoken with want to cook lunch or dinner for you, those are the cultural experiences that you remember. I would go abroad again immediately, the travel bug has definitely bitten me. If you get the chance to go abroad, take it all in. It is such a different lifestyle; there are so many things to discover; there is this whole other world waiting out there. So explore it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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