Before I start this post I just want to make it clear that my aim is not to put you off doing a year abroad at all, but I feel I need to be brutally honest about my experience here so far. Bear in mind I have been here just over two months which, in the grand scheme of things, is not really very long. Things have already stared to improve from what they were like at the very beginning of my time here in Verona.
The first thing I want to talk about is reason I’m here: uni.
If I’ve learnt one thing being in Italy it’s that I was absolutely spoilt at university in Cardiff. The amount of help and support I received in Cardiff was incredible compared to what I receive now. And don’t get me started on the lack of organisation here…But everything is positive: this is preparing me for life after university when I won’t be spoon fed everything and – heaven forbid – I might actually have to do something for myself.
All my friends and family back home take the mick, having only seen the photos of me having the time of my life on my year abroad. But what they don’t see are the days when I haven’t understood a word of my lecture, I don’t know what my exam is about or when I’m meant to hand in my latest piece of homework, because obviously it would be a bit weird to post a picture of me crying in the library on Instagram, wouldn’t it? It’s actually a bloody big deal to move to a different country and study at a university that uses completely different methods of teaching and grading to what I’m used to in my little Cardiff bubble. Trying to concentrate and make notes as well as listen to a lecturer you’re not familiar with, in a language you’re still trying to grasp, in a dialect and accent that you’ve never heard before is difficult. Full stop.
BUT (I know you’ve been waiting for sad Sally to get lost), after the first few weeks I could feel myself understanding and learning more about the topics I was studying as well as the language.
Another thing that people incorrectly think is that you need to be out having fun and meeting people all the time. But that’s not true. No one has that much energy!
As cliché as it is, your year abroad is the perfect time to find yourself (cringe). I personally am very good at being on my own, and I enjoy my own company sometimes (I promise I’m not a saddo). Whether it’s exploring the city, studying or just watching Netflix, learning to be comfortable in your own company is a valuable skill to have. I have watched an impressive (I am a glass-half-full kind of girl) amount of Netflix, though…