Over half of my study abroad experience is over. Can you believe it? Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m really doing it. It seems like such a dream, a goal, for so many people, including myself that sometimes I have to stop and just remind myself that I’m really doing this. Living in a foreign country definitely has its ups and downs, don’t think it’s all paradise. I’ve been compiling and growing list of Hanging clothes out to dry! If it rains, fuggetaboutit things I miss about America. Many things I expected, like no clothes dryers and no free water. But we all know there are many things you don’t appreciate until they’re gone. Driving : While walking definitely helps me feel better about all the pizza and pasta I eat, it does get annoying to walk half of an hour to your favorite restaurant. And when it rains, forget it. I’d never want to risk my life driving around here, but I miss driving at home. Real Bacon : Here in Italy they use pancetta, another type of meat, as a replacement for bacon. Even at the American-style restaurants they falsely advertised it as real bacon. Do not be fooled, you will not get bacon here. Eat a lot of it at home while you can! 3G and Texting: This has to be the biggest thing I miss. You live off WiFi here. Entering every restaurant or café asking, “What’s the WiFi password?” and when they do have WiFi, you spend your dinner on your phone instead of talking to your friends. I think it’s so rude, but when you have such limited opportunities you have to take it. Even in my apartment where I’m supposed to have WiFi, I have to share it with six other girls and apparently that’s too much for it to handle. I can’t even do homework sometimes because of this. And the absolute worst is that I’m in a foreign country and many times I need directions here more urgently than I would at home, but I don’t have 3G to find directions. You’ll learn how to use a paper map whether you like it or not. Bug Screens: This just baffles me. Look at this equation: Florence has some of the worst mosquitoes, I have no choice but to open my windows to hang laundry outside, and there’s no A/C so I want to open them when it’s hot… but there are no screens to keep the bugs out. I seriously took these for granted at home. Not to mention that at home in Connecticut the bugs disappear when it gets cold, usually in late September. Now it is late November and I still have mosquitoes keeping me up at night buzzing in my ear. At least I found some fall in Berlin! Fall in New England: I really never appreciated this when I was at home. People all over the country say how great New England is in the fall. I just thought of it as the end of summer and the oncoming awful winter. Here I miss the changing colors and falling leaves. Not to mention everything pumpkin-related. Pumpkin pies are my favorite, pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, pumpkin picking, pumpkin carving… You really don’t know you’ll miss it until it’s gone. These are very few of the things I miss. In general, please appreciate all of the snacks and restaurants you love at home. In any case, I’m going to go crazy when I get home to have all the things I love again. That’s definitely a side effect of studying abroad that you don’t see coming. So, before you embark on your amazing study abroad experience, take the time to appreciate these things that are so normal in daily life in the States. Samantha Wood is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a junior at Salve Regina University.
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