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Preparing to Spend 4 Months in Italy

View of the Alps from the plane

I knew going into my freshman year at Drexel that I had an interest in studying abroad. Knowing this and little beyond that, I decided to attend a Study Abroad 101 session that was held during my fully online Welcome Week. During the presentation, one of the speakers mentioned a program in Rome that specifically focused on Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. While I am an entrepreneurship major, this is one area that I am very interested in. I quickly jotted down in my memos to look into that program some more. I looked at the rest of the programs that Drexel offers and still believed that this was the program for me. I have always dreamt of travelling to Italy and this would allow me to do both that and study a topic that I am passionate about.

Before I even started my application, I began to research everything related to studying abroad in Italy. I watched YouTube videos and pinned things on Pinterest on essential Italian phrases, what clothes to bring to Italy, study abroad essentials, must see sights, travel hacks, how to survive long flights, culture shocks, and anything else I could think of. I did the same detailed research before starting college, I believe this is my way of getting excited for what is to come and making sure I am as prepared as possible.

I didn’t know whether or not the program would go on until just before I applied for my visa. While I quickly dove into preparing to study abroad, part of me tried not to get too excited about it because I knew how much of a concern COVID was and that the program was likely to get cancelled altogether.

While Drexel’s study abroad application process was very straightforward, the details I had to worry about afterwards were anything but. I had to renew my passport before I applied for my visa but due to COVID, I couldn’t get an appointment for weeks. When it came to applying for my Italian visa, some of the paperwork that they needed was very confusing and difficult to obtain.

More than two months before I was set to embark on this once in a lifetime opportunity, I excitedly took out all of the clothes I wanted to bring abroad. I know from experience that I am a chronic over packer so I wanted to get an early start and see what I wanted to bring. I quickly realized that I could not bring all of it. I am incredibly indecisive so I recruited my sister to help me narrow it down.

I used packing cubes to help me pack my clothes efficiently but that also meant that they weighed a ton. I quickly reached the 50 pound weight limit of my checked bag and spent the last couple of days before my trip trying to distribute all of my belongings between my backpack, carry on, and checked bag. It felt like a complex puzzle, but I did it! My checked bag weighed 49.5 pounds and despite being absolutely stuffed, my carry on and backpack managed to fit on the plane.

This whole process helped teach me that no matter how much I prepared beforehand, there were always going to be things that I was not ready for, and that I would have to adapt.

Final goodbyes to my family shortly before my departure

A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:

The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.

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