The semester is officially half over. It is a tough realization to make, but midterms have passed and spring break is in full swing. After going through the most stressful part of the semester so far, I thought I should share a few pointers for students who plan to study abroad. In my collegiate experience, I have learned waiting until the last minute in any situation only makes it more difficult. Keep that in mind for doing assignments, applying for a program or internship and making travel plans.
Professors recognize that they are competing for students’ time when it comes to teaching semesters associated with study abroad. Not only are students here to learn, they are here to travel and explore Rome. With that said, professors are still teaching and expect us to contribute in class and do our assignments. I have noticed classes here are far more laid back in the sense that homework may consist of weekly readings and an occasional paper, while tests aren’t often given. This may seem like a sweet escape from more tedious semesters back home, but students are responsible to keep up with the work along the way. And let’s not forget about midterms. Reality has swept back in to remind students they are still enrolled in college courses. It is still a balancing act between school, “you” time and exploring the city.
I have a few ideas on how to better prepare for midterms so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming. If the class requires books, buy them. Read them not the night before an exam, but on the train/plane when you are traveling. Most of the transportation’s wifi is lacking, so have a book or class PowerPoint slides saved and available. It will pass time and keep you on track academically. As for Italian classes, practice with your friends and roommates. Everyone is learning mostly the same material, so speak the newest learned vocab with them. If you like to travel on the weekends, don’t save your homework for late Sunday night when you’re exhausted. Do it in between class or commit a night or two to get things done. Like I said, waiting until the last minute makes everything more challenging.
Speaking of waiting until the last minute, plan your spring break agenda before midterms week!!! Literally, it will save you so much stress if you book everything beforehand. If you book ahead, it is a lot cheaper too. Have a few ideas of where you want to go coming into your semester, and talk to friends and classmates who have similar travel interests. It is easier to travel with less people, so the whole squad of ten people may not be ideal. I would probably recommend traveling with one to three other people, just because it is simpler to book everything together and it is easier to make decisions. It is always possible to meet up with other friends in various cities and it’s great when friends who study abroad in a different country you’re visiting are around to give you tours. Be sure to print all your tickets at school before leaving, and write down addresses and contact info of where you’re staying!
Besides booking your travel plans and sleeping arrangements in advance, there are more ways to save some money. It’s halfway through the semester and most of us wonder where all our money went… Bring your student ID with you when going to museums and sightseeing, you’ll likely get in for free/discounted. Buy food at a supermarket to save money on some breakfasts and lunches. Prioritize what activities you want to do in each city, so you don’t spend all your money at once. As I know from Rome, avoid touristy traps to save money. Keep these factors in mind to feel stress free and enjoy your time.