Here are three lessons I learned during my semester studying abroad!
I am a very frugal person and like to save my money to buy something I really want. When I arrived in Italy I had a budget and I was determined to stick to it. Then the second day I ate a sub-par sandwich and realized that I may never get to go to Italy again and marched down to the nearest pizza place and ordered myself a slice. It made my day so much better. Although the pizza was more expensive, I would rather spend a little more money on making my experience good than have a more expensive souvenir.
I was fortunate enough to spend a semester abroad in the UK. Instead of living on Oxford University's campus, we were placed in host homes just outside of the city. It was a little town called Charlbury and we were quickly immersed in the small-town life. We would go down to the little grocery store and everyone would want to talk to us because they knew we were from Canada. I had so many meaningful conversations with my host, the ladies at the church we attended and even just walking down the street. I think that is what made my experience so much better. If I had just stayed to myself I would have never had gotten to experience some of the things I did!
I traveled to Italy in early 2019 and I made the mistake of knowing no Italian before arriving there. Fortunately, many of the Italian people and places speak enough English that he had little trouble doing anything. I have a couple of years of Spanish speaking experience and used that once when I was paying for a book. I wish I had learned some Italian because it would have made my experience feel more authentic.