It is no easy task to come to a foreign country, let alone to do it knowing no one at all. When I came abroad I knew no one and that was so terrifying but it was not something that was going to stop me. My roommates had reached out in the weeks leading up to coming abroad and we had made small talk but I really was coming in blind socially.
When I got to Italy in January I hung out with my roommates for the first few weeks but realized rather quickly that we had different expectations for our time abroad, which was no easy realization. Yet I had told myself from the beginning that “you do not need to be friends with your roommates, just coexist with them.” After that the feeling of not belonging and not having people to do things with was definitely present. Yet I think the feeling of not quite fitting in or not having a ton of friends is something a lot of people experience, until I stepped out of my comfort zone.
Since then I have met people in the most random but awesome ways, and learned to not say “No” to the opportunity to meet new people. From meeting people through friends back home in the states to meeting random people at restaurants or cafes and connecting beyond that one interaction. I have found it really important that while abroad you should remain very open minded and willing to meet new people. You never know who you are going to meet and you never know the type of friendship that could come from that.
I also think it has been really important for me to do my own thing and to go and do things alone because you discover a lot about yourself when with yourself. I also want to remind you that this study abroad experience is whatever you make of it, and do not let anyone change this experience for you, but also be open to letting others contribute to it.
Addysen Dimatteo is the Spring 2022 CEA MOJO Photographer in Florence, Italy, and is currently studying at Houghton College.