What could you have done differently to better prepare for your study abroad experience? What advice would you give to outbound students? How has your experience affected how you will use the rest of your time here at EIU?

To better prepare for my trip, I don’t think I would have done anything different except maybe pack less clothes or be less prepared. I was so focused on being prepared for my trip at times I feel like I forgot to enjoy getting ready for this experience of a life time. Before I left I tried to see my friends and family because I knew I wouldn’t be seeing them for a while, I got in contact with my soon-to-be roommates over facebook, packed extra suitcases, changed my phone, stopped my bills and even tried to preplan what trips I wanted to take and when I could take them.
I have an issue where I have to know everything or I will feel like I know nothing. I would rather be over ready then not ready and sometimes that is not always a good thing. For students that are going on study abroad trips I would suggest to do all the things I did but when your doing them, enjoy every minute of it because for some people it really is a once in a lifetime experience.
Also I would say bring more money than you think you need. But don’t get all of it here. Depending on your country, the exchange rate at the ATM is much lower than if you changed your money at a bank in the USA, even when you include the fees. Don’t bring a lot of clothes or shoes, as much as you think you’ll need them, you wont. And if you really need new things you can always buy some there. Be prepared for school, bring school supplies. Surprisingly, in Italy, they were very hard to find and when I did they were very expensive.
I think the most important advice I can give to someone is to stop and enjoy everything. What do you see? What do you smell? No matter where you go, it is such a different place and you will never forget it, so enjoy everything. Because the little things you don’t even notice right away, are going to be the things that you miss the most. How you can get a cup of gelato for one euro or a quick cornetto on your way to class. How everyone says Ciao! as you walk by whether they know you or not. You stand in the middle of a piazza and look around and see buildings that have been there for hundreds of years and look brand new. You feel like your transported in time and if your too busy planning where you will go next, you will miss the beauty of the things right in front of you.
Because of this trip I am more thankful and appreciative. I cannot control every situation and I need to embrace that. I am more open minded and every now and then I stop and look around me and just enjoy where I am and my surroundings.