4 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

Pack a suitcase with extra room

When going on a study abroad trip for about a month, you want to bring your whole closet and everything you own, but DON’T! For starters, I would bring statement pieces that can match with different tops and different bottoms. You also don’t want to have a heavy suitcase while traveling in the airport. Towards the end of the trip, I realized that I should have brought more shorts and a smaller purse, but I was able to buy those things over there and now I have those as souvenirs.

My suitcase was bigger than I expected, but I was able to stuff it full to bring back items I purchased for myself and for others. My advice would be to avoid over packing because you can always buy missing items in any of the cities and you will want to have room to bring back items. Shopping and exploring were some things I chose to do in each city and I am glad I had the extra room.

Be prepared to learn a lot

Before going on the trip, I knew I would learn about companies and their processes and I thought it would be just like class; but it was much better. I learned about the culture of each country we visited, but I also got to learn their unique perspective on Americans and how their companies are run differently than in America. I really enjoyed getting to learn the history of the cities, seeing the famous sites and monuments, and getting to experience countries that are much older than the United States. Besides culture, business, marketing, finance, products, and services, I enjoyed learning the history and values of each country. We even got to see a celebration of Corpus Christi when we were in Innsbruck, which was something I was not expecting.

Take it all in because it flies by

Lake Geneva SunsetIf I could go back, I think I would have stopped and taken the time be thankful for where I was. The place my feet were standing and the people around me. The whole trip flew by too fast. The flight, going from country to country, visiting international companies, listening to seminars, taking notes, exploring the cities, dining at new restaurants, listening to music, and just enjoying the friendships all flew by so fast!

There is plenty to do each day and in every city, it felt like we were there for weeks, yet it was only 23 days. My advice would be to stop when you can, write down what you are thankful for and what you have been doing because it goes by much faster than you expect.

Don’t be scared to talk to new people first

Girls in Paris Lastly, and most importantly, don’t be scared. Don’t be scared to talk to new people, don’t be scared to be in a new place, and don’t fear the unknown. I think this was the most important lesson I learned. I am an extrovert, but I find it intimidating at times to speak to new people first. This is something I learned to do while on the trip and I am glad I did. Everyone going on the trip is new to each other and they are in the same boat you are in. You might not believe it, but you have much more in common with the other students than you think.
For me personally, I made a friend who has the same major as me and we even have a few classes together. Since being in the same classes, we get to study together, reminisce on the trip, and get to know each other even more. I love that our friendship began in Europe and can continue with us being back home in Baton Rouge. Since we are both graduating this year, we have been able to share our hopes for the future in our careers, our different interests, and even our yearning to go back to Europe.

Elise Ripley

School: Louisiana State University

I enjoy reading, practicing yoga, finding new coffee shops, and spending time with good friends and Verona felt like a place where I could do that!

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