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Dear Me:


Dear Stephanie before studying abroad,

These next four months will be exactly and nothing like what you are expecting right now.  You didn’t think you would actually spend a third of a year in another country, but it’s happening and it’ll be one of the greatest experiences in your life (at least so far).  Although it may be a little rocky at times and you should figure these things out on your own, here are some tips to help you out.

Use the advice you’ve read.  The last couple weeks have been a lot of blog reading and vlog watching of past study abroad students.  Many of them shared their tips and tricks of studying abroad, but make sure to actually do them when you get to Florence.  One of the big ones for me is practicing Italian.  I used it a little bit, but should have used it more.

 Bridge over Arno.

Appreciate the small things.  Well and the large things, but don’t forget to look at the view while walking to class.  You will be walking over the Arno on the Santa Trinita Bridge every morning with the Ponte Vecchio to your right.  It is easy to let it become a daily commute instead of a wonderful sight.  Always explore.  After living in a city for four months, it can seem familiar, but keep looking around for new experiences and hidden gems.
 A woman accidentally took this photo on my phone
and it's one of my favorite photos.

Things will not always go as planned.  Take for example this photo, which I’m sure you are thinking, “Why did she put this terrible photo in here?”  This woman offered to take a photo of a friend and me, but she also ended up taking a couple photos of her feet and finger.  It’s not what we expected but it created a hilarious memory and this is one of my favorite photos from the trip.  While traveling and juggling classes, your plans won’t always go smoothly, so be flexible.

Embrace the Italian culture.  I know it is different home, but that’s the point.  It seems like a simple fact, but try to remember you are in Italy, not the United States.  If you try to adapt the Italian lifestyle, I promise it will treat you well.

So as you pack up your bag and triple check your packing list, remember to have fun.  Get your homework done early – just like Mom said – and go on adventures you’ll always remember.  And by the way, eat as much gelato as possible because unfortunately it’s not the same when you come back home.

A presto,


Stephanie Ino is the Fall 2015 CEA MOJO in Florence, Italy. She is currently a senior at UC Davis.

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