Give us an intro!
Madeline: Hello fellow world travelers! I'm Madeline, but you can call me Maddy! I'm a senior and communications major at Fordham University in New York. I love to read, write, travel, go to concerts, and am always up for an adventure!
What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?
Madeline: I wish someone had told me how I should go about planning my travel. Being in Rome there was so much I wanted to see just within my host city, but I also wanted to explore other parts of Italy and Europe as well.
It was all a bit overwhelming and a lot of my trips ended up being planned and finalized last minute. I still had a blast on every one of them, but the planning was extremely stressful, so I definitely wish I would have known how to manage that better.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Madeline: DO IT! Being a homebody I was incredibly anxious to go abroad, but it was an experience completely unparalleled to anything else I have ever experienced. You will, learn and share so much and it will most definitely change you for the better. When deciding where to go or even if you want to go at all, force your anxieties to take a backseat, you won't regret it.
I almost decided to go to London because I was so anxious about the language barrier (my italian is basic-level at best) but I knew I had to force those fears away or I would regret it. Ever since I was in middle school all I could talk about was studying abroad in Italy when I was a junior in college, and being able to now say that I made that a reality is amazing.
What was hardest part about going abroad?
Madeline: The hardest part for me personally was leaving my family and friends. I am incredibly close to my extended family and parents, and even go to school a short distance from my hometown, so moving halfway across the world for 4 months was incredibly scary and new for me.
I was homesick at first, but Skype and FaceTime kept me in contact with my family and eased my nerves a lot. Overall I think the fact that I made the decision to go abroad to Rome despite my anxieties was incredibly helpful. It not only made me more independent, but taught me that I can succeed and learn a great deal outside of my comfort zone.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
Madeline: I have so many that is an insanely difficult question. I really have two I guess, the first being my time in Sicily. It is a sort of long story that is too long for this interview, but I wrote a blog post about it here:
My other favorite is from one of my last nights with my friends in Rome. We decided that after we went out to the discoteca for the last time together we would walk up the Gianicolo hill and watch the sunrise. It was surprisingly chilly that night, and after hoping from one of our favorite spots to another, about 15 of us started to climb the hill.
When we finally made it to the top, exhausted and a little tipsy we sat and waited for the beautiful Roman sunrise to show itself. We shared stories from our favorite trips, we laughed, we cried, some dozed off a little, and when the sun finally rose, it felt like the beginning of the end in a way.
We were so grateful to have had all of these incredible experiences, and created friendships that would last us a lifetime, but we couldn't help but feel the nostalgia already creeping up on us.
What made this experience unique and special?
Madeline: Honestly, what didn't? Just being in another country and culture, surrounded by people who speak an entirely different language and have an entirely different lifestyle than you makes the experience unique in itself. Italy is an incredible country, the history is enthralling, the beauty is captivating, the people are fascinating, and the food is out of this world.
I learned things I could never learn as deeply at home, and made friends who I now consider like family to me. Going abroad was definitely the best decision I have ever made.