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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Tips & Tricks for a day in Cinque Terre

Italy_coastlineSummer is around the corner and some of you are beginning to plan your trips to Italy. Many of my friends and family that come to visit during the summer months usually have one thing in mind: the beach. Excellent plan. While there is lots of “coastline” to choose from in Italy, Cinque Terre (chink-way ter-re), or the five earths (aka towns), has risen to the top of the popular spots for tourists. This is an especially great escape from Florence (which can be very hot during the summer) and can easily be done in a day!

Recently, while writing to a friend who is planning just such a day trip, I was trying to remember all the ins and outs and I realized that there were maybe a few more than the average person can just “pick up,” especially if the Italian is limited. So I thought, why not make it easy (for me and for others) and put it all in one place. Below you will find all the need-to-know info from how to get there for less to what you can skip to save time and from where to hike to where not to. Of course we’ll tackle the food, I mean, the cuisine is worth the trip in itself, but we’ll also be sure you know how to make it home without getting stranded there (unless that is part of the plan). Enjoy and see you there this summer!
Continue reading…

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Blog Updates: Best Food in Florence!

It has been entirely too long since I updated our Best Food in Florence post. Frankly, I’m embarrassed. It’s one of more useful blogs we have, if I do say so myself, including tips, hints, and all the necessities before we even get to the food. Writing about the food is always my favorite part and usually involves me leaving immediately afterwards to revisit one of our favorite spots. This new version has some new favorites along with the classics we still love. Really, you can’t go wrong with this list, whatever your price point and for however long you’re staying. I eat at pretty much all of these on a rather regular rotation and have for years! They continuously impress, so I hope you feel the same!

The Best Food in Florence
burrata

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Guest Blogger: How to talk to your parents about studying abroad with Select Study Abroad

We are thrilled to share our latest guest blog from Rachael, a stellar Select Study Abroad alum and Alpha Delta Pi sister who will be graduating from Quinnipiac University this spring. This wise senior wanted to share her tips on how to approach your parents about studying abroad. It is a big decision, an important investment, and an experience that you will never forget. So, take note and follow her sisterly advice!
 
Your parents constantly worry about your safety and wellbeing so imagine when you are 3,000 miles away from home. Back packing through Europe isn’t something that thrills many parents, but what about studying abroad? If they’re still nervous here is a way to help you find a destination that gives you a home-away-from-home vibe without freaking your parents out. Continue reading…

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Top Ten Tips for Studying Abroad in Florence or Italy – Part III

top_ten_tips_study_abroadOK. It’s time.
It’s time for the final installment of Top Ten Tips for Studying Abroad in Florence and Italy. Seeing as a whole bunch of students have just arrived and are making their way through the streets of Florence and getting the hang of their new Italian life (covered extensively in Part I and Part II of this blog series), I would say it’s time to give them the next, and final installment, of Top Ten Tips for Studying Abroad in Florence or Italy. Wouldn’t you agree?
 
Besides, I was starting to feel bad that there were only really 7 amazing tips floating out there… Well, as promised, here are the final three tips in our study abroad tips series – a literal A to Z on studying abroad (and traveling and living) in Florence and Italy. From what to pack to arriving in style and from calling home to getting to a local doctor, we cover all the fundamental life needs in three easy-to-read blog posts.
 
As always, for those of you who are new to our Top Ten Tips blogs (welcome!), see below for a handy guide to the massive quantity of information into which you are about to dive. Use it to help manage the material. Want to know everything there is to know about international calling? Want to get to the heart of the grocery store issue? Jump to that section now by clicking on the links below! Or, should you so desire, start with Part I and make your way through everything, in order. We love to hear from you, so if we left anything out, just let us know in the comments at the bottom! Continue reading…

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