What is it really like?
Just like everything in life, everyone that lives or studies abroad has a different experience. This is my experience. It is easy for me to say that studying and living abroad has changed me in so many ways. I have learned SO many things but mostly about being more patient, humble and most of all compassionate. When preparing to study abroad I felt like I was preparing to move to another universe. I thought EVERYTHING, including the people, were going to be drastically different but, that’s not true. You come to realize that as humans we all laugh, love, and cry.
I decided to write this because when we were home about two weeks ago, we got a lot of questions about just how it is living in another country. These are a few of the most asked questions.
“If you’re allergic to gluten and dairy how do you eat?”
I am not exaggerating when I say 12 people asked me this. Lol. Well, the simple answer is sometimes I do have to eat gluten and dairy. The only thing that I have a severe reaction to is cow’s milk (I get stomach cramps) so that’s what I really don’t ever drink. Gluten doesn’t make me seriously ill but it also doesn’t make me feel my best. The times I mostly eat gluten or dairy (i.e. cheese) is when it is speciality food (I’m not going to not eat a churro ice cream cone while in Prague…) OR when we are on a train or plane and there is no other choice. The hardest country to be gluten and dairy free is for sure Italy. Living there you realize 99% of what they consume is cheese on gluten (pizza), cheese in gluten (calzone) or cheese with veggies (caprese salads). Do you see my dilemma? It’s hard but not impossible. Most of the time I have meat and a side of veggies or when we go to the store I just get a lot of fruit. 🙂
“Are markets ALL open air or “farmer market” style? Do you have a fridge? How big is it?”
No. They have grocery stores just like the U.S. They are a little smaller and while having a few american staples they don’t have it all. It isn’t that they are lacking or behind it’s just that they don’t eat they same things we do. Trust me, in America we don’t have the same selection of mozzarella cheese.
Yes, we have a tiny fridge. It’s the same size of the fridge I had in my freshmen year dorm. So, yeah, we go to the store a lot.
“Are the people nice?”
In Milan, most of the people are very business driven. However, when we interact with them they are some of the nicest people we have met. We have also met some of the nicest people in Ireland. Seriously, we didn’t meet one rude person. Again, that was just our experience. There are nice and rude people everywhere in the world. 🙂
“How do you travel from place to place?”
We took trains when traveling just Italy. It was pretty fast and easy! When we were going from Milan to Paris to London… We traveled only by planes. They were pretty cheap but looking back I wish we would have taken buses from Milan to Paris. Flying is such a hassle, you have to get to the airport early, go through security then wait. You spend 3+ hours at the airport for a 1 hour flight. When taking busses, you get there and just get on. They are also much cheaper. For example, it took us about 4 hours to get from Vienna to Prague and was only 10 Euros each.
“How much do things cost?”
It seriously depends on what country you are in! Switzerland and London were extremely expensive. Places like Prague and Munich were so much cheaper. But on average per day we probably spend about $30-$40 USD. Even that depends on if we are working with a hotel or have a Airbnb or whatever is on the agenda (like tours).
“Do you and Braxton get tired of each other?”
Hahaha! I feel like if you ever want to really really want to get to know someone you should move to a foreign country, commit to the same housing and have to work together on hard situations even when you are in a fight. This trip has seriously been one of the toughest things we’ve done together. At first it was really hard but we quickly learned a lot about each other and what gets on each others nerves. I think also, once you learn to let go of the little things it gets so much easier. A lot of people told us this trip would make or break our relationship but…still together! 😉
Feel free to ask if you have any other questions about what life is like in another country!
With Love, Elizabeth Ashley