Wrote down a couple things for those studying abroad and those thinking about it. I kept it to 10 for sanity’s sake. If you are looking for more, just let me know.
1. Do everything faster.
This is Italy, the country of fast and efficient cars, espresso and breakfast standing up. So walk fast, bag your groceries quickly and don’t stop in front of every monument or statue for a selfie and if you do, make it quick. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
2. Don’t be a tourist.
Live long enough in a city that is mostly a tourist attraction and you’ll see why native people hate you. Just don’t be that guy.
3. Become a regular.
Whether it be your coffee stop, gelato stop or nightlife spot become a regular. And if possible, at more than one. The more they see you, the less of a tourist you are.
4. Go to places & spots nobody else goes.
If you’re in Florence, grab a friend grab some food and drinks and go sit on a column of one of the 5 bridges over the Arno. If you’re clumsy you may want to skip it. Go to small restaurants and check out some of the large group deals, they’re always worth it.
5. Reality check
No Italian your age lives in the tourist city center like you probably do. Those apartments are way out of their budgets. Apartments in the city are either owned by older crowds that have had the apartments passed on for generations. Anyone in the city center is old, wealthy and not your age, or foreign. So if you’re looking for Italian bars and clubs, put your walking shoes on ladies. Heads up on how clubs work, watch out for lame cover charges.
6. Work first, play later.
Want to go out every night? Unless you have a quiz/test stay in. Otherwise, it’s easier than you think. Schedule your classes later in the day. And don’t be lazy, get out of class, do the homework right away. Is it a reading? Google it. Thank Sergei and Larry. Doing your homework right away instead of being lazy will pay off. Promise. Lastly, you’ll get some lame oral presentations and some crazy research papers with ridiculous requirements, do the lame presentations early and prepare for war with the keyboard.
7. No money, no problems.
You’re in Europe. Quite possibly the last time you may ever get this opportunity to travel. If you’re a junior, you have one more maybe two more summers until you get a job. Know how much time an entry level employee gets off? Zero. Don’t lecture people on how broke you are, everyone else probably is too. Save the pity. Would you rather have regrets or pay off a couple grand of debt once you have a job next year? Trust me, paying this off will be way more worth it than college loans. Don’t blow money, make every dollar count.
Stay away from hipsters. Seriously. “Let’s check out this place” are fatal words. You’ll end up having a bad time, spend more money than you ever intended and you’ll just be pissed off. More often than not I find people going to these dumb places, paying ridiculous money, for nothing. They aren’t use to Europe, this isn’t the US anymore, their hipster ways do not fly the same way here. If you’re shaking your head right now in disapproval, no worries you’ll see.
9. Don’t start drinking at 7.
In Europe, unless you’re at Ocktoberfest or the UK, you won’t last. You can’t be done with class and just crack a beer when you’re out. Europeans, especially Italians, don’t go out “out” until at least 11-12. The clubs and bars sometimes won’t fill up until 1. And on this continent if you’re at the bar going wild at 9, you’re the biggest dumbest asshole there. Same thing with dinner, if you’re eating at 7, you’re doing it wrong. Eat later, it’ll help the whole going out later thing as well. Hey cheer up, 90% of Europe doesn’t have an open container law so always grab a roadie.
10. Take your travels with you.
Most of you reading this are American, if not applies to you as well, but any-who. You’re considered by 75% of your fellow earthlings to be the dumbest and most ignorant people on earth, don’t go back home and continue to be the person you were when you left. Bring what you’ve seen, learned, experienced and lived with you. Don’t dress the same way, don’t eat the same way, don’t think the same way. When you go back home, what you’ve experienced, very few others will have…very very few others. Your opinion now, your mentality (hopefully), is much much more mature than that of others. You’ve seen and lived what very few others have. Remember that and be thankful. You’ll realize at one point how much smarter, quicker and better you are in that respect as a result of living out of the US. Use this privilege wisely and humbly. Let others trip on their shoelaces, while you sitting back in your chair in silence, because you know.
Be a traveler not a tourist.
Hope this helps.