Thoughts, Packing Lists, & Memories of Going Abroad

veniceThere are only a handful of days (or weeks) before your trip abroad. It is an amazing feeling, but if you’re like me then there are also a million thoughts running through your head at this moment!
It is such an exciting time! I was nervous and I felt like I had so much to do, I felt like I was not ready to leave my house for over a month by just packing one suitcase and I had never been away for so long.
On that note, we will start with some packing tips!

packingAbout a week before my trip aboard, I started to organize and pack. A MAJOR tip from me, DO NOT pack the night before you want to go. Give yourself 24 hours to stare at your suitcase and think what do I need, or what can I take out.

It is not worth it to over pack! Bring outfits that you can mix and match and I promise that the shopping in Florence is amazing, so you leave space to fill your suitcase with all of the amazing things that you will buy! I wish I left room in my suitcase, I would have been able to bring back more food, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and gifts for other people.

Here are a few things that I wish that I DIDN’T pack:

• Wedges: cute in theory but not worth it at all! In Italy walking on the cobblestones for miles in heels? Not happening! Bring a cute pair of sandals instead or buy a pair when you get there! (Trust me you will want to buy more than one pair!)

• Jeans: You only need one or two pairs of jeans! It gets hot in the cities and you’ll wish you packed more dresses and skirts than jeans!

• Hair dryer: I didn’t bring a hair dryer, but I knew a few sisters that did!
The plugs in Italy are different and even with the plug adapters they not safe to use! Most hotels have them for you, and you will have access to them, so don’t worry!

• Too much makeup and products: I brought my whole makeup bag and that weight and space add up! Pick your daily favorites, and throw in a few things you put on as well. I also brought big bottles of hair products. Really you just need a small bottle (not value size) of shampoo, and miniature bottles of product, like texturizer, mouse, and gel.

And of course there are so many things I am SO GLAD I packed!

• Sneakers: I would walk up to 10 miles a day! Sneakers aren’t the cutest things to wear I know, but your feet will thank you later!

• Scarves: When you go into churches, you need to make sure that you can cover up. A scarf fits easily into your bag and also looks cuter than buying the cloaks the churches give you!

• Plug adapters: These are amazing! I brought two with me to plug in my laptop and my phone. They are a necessity when traveling abroad!

• Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Hats: Long days out and about will fry you if you don’t have sun protection! I brought a tiny sunscreen and it was perfect! And I bought the cutest hat in Florence that I still wear all the time!

• A good weekender bag for the weekend trips: I had a great over the shoulder bag that I would fill up for the weekend. It is not worth bringing a huge suitcase and walking blocks with it and lugging it up the stairs. I had plenty of room in my little bag!

unspecified-4• A big cross body bag!: A small purse will not be helpful when you are out all day! My purse carried my water, wallet, camera, scarf, and sometimes a snack! It wasn’t too big, and it is safer to have a cross body with a zipper!

• A nice camera: I invested in a camera and it was so great to have high quality pictures of everything. I think that our phones have great cameras until we try to print off all of the pictures! That is when you’ll wish you brought a real camera!

So after packing, there are still a million thoughts running through your mind about your flight over and getting settled in. My advice is to stay calm and prepare yourself.

• Check into your flight the day before and throw your ticket in your carry on the second you print it.

• Wallet, License, and Passport. You will think this a million times before getting on your flight and when you land, so put them in a spot that is safe but that you can check often!

• Take your time getting to the airport and get to the gate early! We got to our flights gate an hour before we boarded. It is good peace of mind.

unspecified-5There are so many memories that you will make on this trip. Don’t let yourself forget them! Bring a journal or write a blog like I did to keep track of the day-to-day things that happened. Always remember to take a picture of where you are and what you are up to! I forgot to in a few great spots and I regret it!

You are about to leave to go on an amazing adventure! Think of it that way and enjoy each day that you are on this trip. Time flies when you are having fun and this might be the best month of your life. I hope that everyone has so much fun!

So be safe, adventure, and eat a lot of gelato and pizza for me!

-Alexa Orban

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Things we wish we had known about Studying Abroad

Study_Abroad_sistersThere are so many things that I wish I had known before I went to Italy with Select Study Abroad. What is it going to be like? Am I going to have fun? Make friends?
And of course, I wasn’t the only one of my sisters who felt like that!

We all wished that we had known how amazing this trip was going to be, and that there was no reason to be nervous before deciding to go!

Sisters_abroadHere is what some of our sisters that joined us this past summer wished they had known:

M.M ~ I wish I had known not to worry about not knowing anyone going in because I would meet such great people!

S.P. ~ I wish I had known how much fun I was going to have!

B.P. ~ I wish I had known that in just one short month you could meet people who had the ability to change your life in such amazingly positive ways, that would make saying “goodbye” that much harder.

G.D. ~ I wish I had known how exciting each day was going to be, even the little things.

M.B. ~ I wish I had known how quickly it flies by. Going abroad is something that everyone should at least try! You never know how much you’ll love it, until you’re there. And its better to wish you would’ve known, than wishing that you went! So indulge your wanderlust and your adventurous side and go explore!

Ciao sisters!


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Select Study Abroad June 2015: Final Week (carousel rides, marriage proposals, & beautiful sunsets)

It’s time for our least favorite post: the Final Week Post. It’s time for our adventure to come to an end, at least until the reunion. This year we added in some fun with a very special scavenger hunt which had the ladies posing on carousels, introducing themselves to random Italians, and yes, in some cases, proposing to strangers. We think it was the perfect ending. Which was only topped by a little sunset action up on Piazza Michelangelo and a mouth watering meal under the stars. We will miss you ladies! Come back. Right now.

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Select Study Abroad June 2015: Week 3 (arts & crafts, Uffizi, cooking, gardening, and…eating!)

Week 3 baby! We took advantage of a gloomy monday to be inspired by all the gorgeous masks and art we saw in Venice and made some fun arts and crafts to take home. We got over to the Uffizi galleries, a must-see in Florence, no question. Michelangelo and Botticelli did not disappoint. Then we dropped in on some of our cooks-in-traing during their awesome cooking class in the Mercato Centrale in San Lorenzo. They are basically professional and made some of the most beautiful cannolis we have ever seen. Then our Alpha Phi ladies hit up Orto Dipinti again (a community run and managed garden in the center of Florence) where we watered and pruned and painted the homemade flowerbeds to help extend their lives. No week is complete of course without some epic eating. This week we took our ladies to one of our all-time favorites, Cesarino. A hidden gem. We took over the entire outside patio. What a blast.
Arts & Crafts Day
art_day Continue reading…

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