The Pre-Departure Feels: Advice from a Study Abroad Student

As our study abroad experience here in Florence, Italy comes to an end, emotions are running high. There is excitement about sipping on the first Dunkin Iced Coffee you’ve had in four months. There is sadness about tasting an All’Antico sandwich for the last time. There is pure joy when the thought of crossing the street becomes safe again.

Basically, an emotional roller coaster has ensued and it cannot be stopped.

Something I’ve noticed that happens a lot here is people often try to justify how they are feeling. For example, conversations usually go like this:

P1: “How are you feeling about leaving?”

P2: “Oh my god I am so excited to see my friends and family and to be back in America again, I am so ready”


P2: “But not in like an ungrateful way, Florence is amazing I am so happy to be here because it is such an unreal experience and I feel very lucky to be a part of this”


The Feels #1: Excitement

In my opinion, people often feel really bad about saying they’re excited to go home. I noticed that as soon as people are honest to others about their excitement, they often try to explain themselves and prove that although excited they “are so happy to be here and feel very lucky everyday”

Guess what! Allow yourself to be wholeheartedly excited. You’re going back to you’re home. You’re going back to a part of you. Your excitement does not discredit what this trip means to you.


The Feels #2: Relief

Studying abroad is extremely difficult and definitely very brave. For someone to submerge themselves in a completely different culture for four months takes guts so first things first take a minute and be proud of what you’ve done here. Similar to excitement, I think that people feel guilty about relief, but there is so much comfort in going back to what you know. There is so much comfort in knowing that it isn’t going to be difficult to communicate with others anymore. Let yourself have this feeling. No matter what you are so brave, and you have every right to feel complete content toward going home because to put it simply, you’re ready.


The Feels #3: Anxiety

Um how am I going to fit all of these new purchases in my suitcase? Should I get another suitcase? I have to go souvenir shopping UGH but if I get one person this then I have to buy someone else something. Wait!! I haven’t climbed the Duomo yet oh my god I am so crunched for time and I still have so much to do.

Guess What! Relax. Bask in your last few moments. It’s easy to get caught up in the “last time’s” and “I still need to’s” but take a minute. Breathe. Don’t go through the motions because you feel like you have to. If it is more meaningful for you to sit in Michelangelo for 3 hours than it is for you to see the David, climb the duomo and the bell tower, and go to the Uffizi Gallery all in one day…always choose what will mean more to you. This is your experience, you do not have to live it the way you feel like others think you should. You know yourself and what means the most to you. Listen to that these next few days. You own experience.


Lastly, the Feels #4: Sadness

I believe that sadness stems from the realness of departure. Departure is so much more than leaving Florence. It’s leaving one of a kind people and you truly don’t know if you’ll see them again. It’s discovering something in Florence that you know you can’t find back home. It’s dealing with some of the toughest goodbyes you’ll experience in your life time.

Guess what! Come back. I think that people have sadness because they can’t imagine coming back anytime soon. Give it 2 years, 8 years, 34 years..whatever it takes, but remember Florence is not going anywhere and it will always be waiting for your return.


You could be feeling a combination of these as well. It’s difficult to stay consistent when you’re so excited to go back home to your friends and loved ones, but you’re so sad about saying goodbye to the new friends that have been created. Embrace it. Florence has impacted us all so differently, allow yourself to accept these changes and how they make you feel.



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