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Unpacking from Study Abroad: My Experience, Do’s & Don’ts, & Recommendations

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

I could write a 40-page thesis about my study abroad experience, but I will condense my thoughts into this article. Studying abroad, specifically in Florence, Italy, was hands-down the best decision of my UMass career, if not my life. I know, I know, you’ve heard that from every other person who just got back, but if you are even starting to think about considering studying abroad, I urge you to do it. 


Plan ahead!!!!!!!! My biggest regret abroad was taking trips so last minute. This was more expensive, chaotic, and stressful to do. While we went on many, many trips, we could have gone on so many more had we planned better in advance. My advice: make a list of everywhere you want to go BEFORE going abroad. Once you get there, book every flight, hotel, hostel, transportation during your first week of the semester. This will guarantee you cheaper trips, and allow you to effectively plan out your weekends. 

Make conversation with anyone and everyone. While every instinct in my body went against this recommendation, one of my roommates’ outlook was quite different. I learned a lot from her, and just a mere conversation with a stranger often resulted in free meals, reservations, and new friends!


While I encourage taking as many trips as your heart desires, do not travel somewhere every single weekend. So many people I talked to only spent one weekend in Florence all semester, and said it was their biggest regret to be gone each weekend. Enjoy the city you choose to study to. Spend some weekends there, explore, marvel, and just relax in your new home. 

Destinations & Recommendations

For the sake of the length of this article, and my own sanity, I will only be including international trips, with some exceptions. 

The first trip my roommates and I went on was to Pisa and Lucca, two little towns in Tuscany. Pisa, obviously famous for its Leaning Tower, seemed to be a popular destination to go to during the first few weekends abroad due to its location and accessibility. Having been deprived of greenery in Florence, we were most overjoyed to see the glistening grass lawns in front of the tower and neighboring church. While it was cool to see the tower (for about 5 minutes), combining the trip with a visit to Lucca made it much more worth the trip. Additionally, I would recommend going towards the end of the spring semester, as I think the only negative remark we had from Lucca was how much prettier it would have been in nicer weather. 

Our first big-girl trip was to London to visit one of my friends from home that was studying there. Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous and although our trip was short, we saw the highlights of the city. The food, while outstanding, was incredibly expensive. Accustomed to the luxury of amazing fresh pasta for a mere 9 euros, 35 pound meals were like a slap in the face. My one recommendation would be to not visit during St. Patrick’s Day! This is when we went, and in a humble attempt to experience the nightlife, we ended up waiting in a standstill line for 30 minutes before giving up and walking home. 

Our second big girl trip, spring break edition was to GREECE! A land of daydreams, never in a million years did I think I would get to experience the Mamma Mia land in real life. Our first two days were spent in Athens. My two recommendations: DO NOT ever ever ever stay in an Airbnb in a town called Exarcheia, and make sure the Acropolis is open on the day you get your tickets because they WILL sell them to you on a day that it’s closed. After Athens, we went to a little island called Syros, and we all fell in love. This was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, and could rave about the sunset for hours. Our next stop was Mykonos, and while gorgeous as ever, it was slightly cold and I would love to be able to go back during the real season. However, I had the best asparagus risotto of my life there. 

Greece Santorini Travel Adventure Sunset
Jackie Ryan / Her Campus

Galway, Galway, Galway. If I could tell you one place to go it would be here. I want to move here and grow old here and never ever leave. From the Cliffs of Moher to the friendliest people on earth, I recommend this place x1000. 

These places were the highlights of my study abroad experience, and I urge anyone debating it to go abroad and keep my advice in mind :)

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Anais Clinch

U Mass Amherst '24

Anais is a senior honors psychology major and sociology minor at UMass.