I won’t lie; my expectations for studying abroad are completely different than the reality.
I was under the assumption that I would travel every weekend, skip a class or two, and have an easy-breezy time. However, my classes are no joke. There are midterms, finals, quizzes, extensive readings, and research papers, more than what I had expected from discussing abroad with previous participants. The attendance policy is strict, meaning skipping class is a luxury only to be done once or twice for the entire semester. Since my classes only meet once a week, the two and a half hours are long and focused. After class or before the next class it is essential to review my notes in order to recall the past lecture.
Since I arrived at the end of January, I’ve traveled a little in Italy and around Europe.
I spent my first weekend in Rome, although I was pretty much asleep that whole weekend from the jet lag. I’ve come to realize that jetting off every weekend, while fun and exciting, is also exhausting and stressful. It’s difficult to strike a balance between staying on top of classwork and preparing for the following week. Especially since I’ve almost completely eliminated the weekend as a period of time to do homework or study.
However, the solution I have found is to be as organized as possible and to be aware of deadlines. I have marked in my calendar all the essential deadlines for papers and exams. In addition, I keep a running list of weekly assignments on a sticky note on my laptop. During long train rides and flights, I do some readings if I can manage to fit my books and notebooks into my carry on. Within my calendar I keep a schedule of my travel plans as well, which helps me plan whether or not I can roam around Rome or if I have to spend the day being as productive as possible.