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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Stonehill chapter.

Waking up in a new bed in an apartment with new friends, to the songs coming from the cafe across the street, where the patrons are conversing, yet you don’t understand anything they’re saying. A glimpse of the beauty of studying abroad. 

I will never be able to put into words the full extent of how study abroad has shaped me. On paper, it consists of being able to take easier classes in a foreign classroom, and going on fun trips every weekend, which is very true. What isn’t often thought of is the struggles you face daily, such as using google translate in the grocery store to make sure you’re buying the right kind of pepper, learning how to use the public transportation in different countries, learning the local customs so you’re not looked at crazy when you order milk in your coffee after eleven a.m. These experiences are the ones that have taught me perseverance, communication skills, adaptability, patience, and so much more. 

In this article, I share some of my experience and advice in hopes that it helps any student considering studying abroad to see the value in a once in a lifetime experience, such as this.

Where I Studied

I lived in Perugia, Italy which is a small city in the middle of the country, which truly is a lesser-known Italian gem. Perugia resides entirely on a mountain (so walks to class kept us in shape to say the least). Perugia, despite being considered a city, had a very small town feel where you would see the same shop owners everyday and sometimes the same people wandering the streets. It is also considered the chocolate capital of Italy and is home to the Eurochocolate festival every fall. I was fortunate enough to know three girls from Stonehill that I went to Italy with, so we all shared an apartment, while studying at the Umbra Institute. Umbra was located in the city center overlooking a historic fountain where popular cafes, bars, and shops were. If you have the time and happen to be in Italy, I highly recommend taking a day trip here. 

My Favorite Trips & What We Did

  1. Barcelona and Mallorca, Spain

There are infinite things to do in Barcelona: See the La Sangrada Familia, Casa Batllo, shop local, check out the huge local market, such as the Mercado de la Boqueria, go to a soccer game, or explore the nightlife. The culture is so distinct and vibrant here, which was amazing to experience. After a few days, we took a 30 minute flight to Mallorca for our fall break. Here we relaxed in an oceanfront hotel, took an ATV tour around the island, went cliff jumping, and rode bikes to local restaurants. 

  1. Interlaken and Grindelwald, Switzerland 

We stayed in downtown Interlaken where there are cute shops and restaurants. We also went Paragliding off the Alps, ate some fondue, and took the train to Grindelwald to go skiing. This was truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

  1. Amalfi Coast, Italy

This is another one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. We traveled with a group of other American abroad students through Smart Trips, a travel group run by recent American college graduates, which is a lot of fun. We stayed in Sorrento, then took day trips around the coast. 

  • Day in Capri: Took the ferry to the island, hopped on a party boat, got the famous lemon and orange granitas, ate seafood, and rode the single-person chairlift in Anacapri to the top of the island.
  • Day in Positano (yes it is as beautiful as the pictures make it look): Rented a private boat with a smaller group of friends that took us cliff jumping, went shopping, and enjoyed the local cuisine.  
  • Day in Pompeii: We hiked Mt.Vesuvius, the active volcano that took out Pompeii before going to see the ruins. 
  1. Paris, France
  • Short weekend trip, so we focused on seeing the sights, such as the Louvre, and then got hot chocolate and macaroons. We also went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and shopped. This is such a beautiful city. 
  1. Munich, Germany 
  • Oktoberfest: So crazy and fun, wore drindels, walked around the mile long carnival site and checked out the beer halls. 
  • SmartTrips also brought us to the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Being there and learning about the history truly gives you chills, it was a very emotional experience. 
  1. Florence & Rome
  • Not really huge trips since we were already in Italy, and they were both a short train ride away from Perugia.
  • Florence: Great nightlife, walked around the leather markets, and we ended up going back to do our Christmas shopping there. 
  • Rome: Very touristy, but fun to see all the sights that you’ve seen pictures of like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. We also went to the Vatican City, which was beautiful and cool to learn about. 


  1. Outlet converter: For Europe, I would recommend the two prong ones (opposed to three) since they are more universal.
  2. Packing Cubes: I never used these until I went abroad, but they make a huge difference. 
  3. Bright Luggage Tags: These will help so much when you are in a busy airport full of other abroad students all looking for their same-colored suitcases.
  4. Fanny Pack or a Cross Body Bag: Just something that will keep your phone, wallet, and personal belongings close to your body when traveling in busy areas. 

And finally keep an open mind. Most things will never go as planned, but go with the flow because you never know where these experiences will take you. Some of the best things in life are unexpected.

I 1000/10 recommend studying abroad.

Abby Ahearn

Stonehill '24

Abby Ahearn is a senior at Stonehill College, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business degree, with a marketing major and entrepreneurship minor. She is also a member of the NCAA Division 1 Stonehill Women's Lacrosse Team. She is passionate about traveling, any activity outdoors, country music, and finding the good in everything.