It’s hard to believe that one more week has passed by and there’s only one week left of the program. It feels like we just landed yesterday, and everything went by in the blink of an eye. Sounds cliche as all hell, but it’s true. Over the course of the past 8 weeks, being able to intern at LivItaly has been a wonderful experience – a lot of what the other intern and I have been doing there has been working as part of their content team and helping them with the marketing for their company, and it’s been a fantastic learning experience, especially since I want to get into the field of marketing and public relations for the film and entertainment industry in the future. Although I never saw myself as working at a tour company, being able to see how a tour company runs has only given me a greater appreciation for all of the hard work that goes into running that kind of company and actually making sure that tourists have as good of a time as they possibly can while in a new and foreign city.
And I’m not going to lie when I say that this summer was the first time that I’ve ever been out of the United States, so working at a tour company for the summer in a foreign city has been able to help me think of what I’d need to prepare for when I decide to go abroad again in the future. After all, I was one of those embarrassing American tourists who didn’t know how to blend in and “act natural” for the first couple of days – heck, even the first week – here in Rome. It’s stuff like looking up directions, figuring out transportation, how to get tickets to museums and avoid extremely long lines, how to avoid being scammed, how to not irritate the locals and the tour guides, that people need to tip their tour guides, and how to not be the overly obnoxious, stereotypical American while abroad (which might sound easy, but sometimes it helps to minimize fitting into that stereotype, even though sometimes it’s easy to forget and slip back into some typical American habits).
Learning all of that wasn’t the only thing that my internship and my program with IES helped me to learn – there’s a lot that goes into planning a trip abroad, namely:
- Find out if you need towels and bedsheets for your apartment or homestay while abroad
- How many people are currently in or applying to a program
- How many people have done the program in the past
- Do they have an orientation before the classes and/or internship starts
- How long has this specific program been around?
- Have there been any serious injuries or problems during previous programs?
- Getting medications & vitamins while abroad
- How Far in Advance to Book Domestic/International Flights
- How to Plan a Trip with a Big Group
- Buying and bringing a portable phone charger with you to most places
- General etiquette & manners
- How to communicate with locals to avoid as much miscommunication as possible
- Stuff like knowing if sparkling water is preferred over still (aka tap) water (it might not seem important, but it is if you’re really thirsty and dehydrated)
- If you’ll need allergy medication or any other vaccine shots before leaving the country or after getting back
- Where all of the US Embassy offices are in the city/countries that you’re visiting
- General introductory knowledge of the country’s politics and economics (important to know in case of a possible riot or governmental collapse – rare, but still good to know beforehand)
- How Americans are viewed and treated as well as American stereotypes that people might believe
- Trip planning (booking hostels/AirBnBs, trains/buses/transportation, getting around on the local public transportation system)
- Data plans for your phone & how to get them