When I got accepted to this program and started looking at previous off-campus students’ blogs, I was kind of annoyed at the lack of detail about the lead-up. What I really wanted to know was how to prepare for a thing like this, and mainly all I was getting was ‘night before, I’m so nervous’ –> ‘I’ve arrived’ –> ‘I’m eating such and such and it’s pretty good/bad’. Grr. So, out of a love of lists and an obsessive attention to detail, I’m going to actually talk about preparations as I go about them. You’re welcome, future students (and I’m sorry to everyone else).
1. We can skip a large chunk of this because, after I decided to apply to the program, everything for months was just ‘follow instructions.’ Followed instructions on the application, followed the instuctions I got by email after I was accepted, followed instructions on the health forms, insurance forms, visa application, course registration, etc. Just Simon Says everything at this point and you should be fine.
2. Wanted to get a jump on learning the language and familiarizing myself with the city, so preparations in that direction. As far as the language, I’ll be buying the $40 starter-set Pimsleur method for Italian, plus an Italian-English dictionary — if I need anything else, I’m going to trust that the internet knows everything. I’ve also already purchased the Italian Survival Guide as a basic overall “do’s and dont’s” sort of handbook, as well as a Knopf mapguide of Florence that looks super handy. Will be poring over all these things with fascination for the next 3 months.
3. Joined the Facebook group for the class, got a travel buddy who more-or-less lives in my area, and purchased tickets online. Orbitz was the cheapest at the time, and we’re going with Swiss airlines — I’m told that Swiss (as a European airline) is great, but I’ve been burned by bad airline advice before so we’ll see.
4. Currently, stuck on wardrobe. Apparently shorts and sneakers will mark you as a tourist in Italy, as may anything that veers far more towards casual than classy. I’d like to not stand out at all, so…damn. That’s not to say that I’m not classy — I ooze class, you know — but it’s by sheer force of personality, not wardrobe. Because I dress like a bum. Jeans are apparently alright over there (and hallelujah, because that was non-negotiable), but I think I’ll have to invest in more wedge shoes and light dresses/skirts. Plus a jacket that can act as a raincoat (it gets rainy). Plus cardigans and more jackets for layering. And I have to make sure that I can walk for extended periods of time comfortably and keep shoulders covered (cathedrals, you know) and adjust for high and low temperatures. And I’ll probably need a watch. *sigh.*
So yeah, that’s where we’re at. I find out soon what classes I got into, and my parents inform me that my handbook arrived in the mail, so I’ll be getting acquainted with that as soon as I get home.
Have I mentioned that I am incredibly ready to do this?