As my stay in Florence is coming to an end, I would like to share with you a few tips which helped me make the most of this experience. Exploring can be incredibly valuable as it encourages us to discover new things, venture beyond our comfort zone, and further develop ourselves. But bear in mind that there’s no need for you to cross the globe just yet – perhaps the city worth truly discovering lies right at your doorstep!

If you’re looking to explore beyond your comfort zone, these travel tips are just the thing for you. Even if a vacation abroad is not in your immediate plans, putting them into practice at home might surprise you with what it can uncover.

1. Embark on a two-week-long touristic adventure!

It’s easy to say, “I have four months to do that: I’ll do it later.” Before you know it, the semester is over and now all that’s left to do is complete a few last-minute tasks. But don’t fret! If you’re having trouble getting started, take advantage of Rick Steves’ walking tours – they are superbly crafted and guaranteed to maximize your time and money! Trust us when we say this guidebook will make sure everything gets done in no time.

2. Go on an adventure and uncover the flavors of your destination by taking a cooking class!

Cooking is an integral part of every culture, so learn a few tricks to take home with you! Visiting local markets gives you insight into how food reflects the culture and provides you with rare opportunities for sampling dishes that won’t be found on menus. Take advantage of these experiences and explore what each unique cuisine has to offer!

3. Gear up for your weekend escapades with a reliable backpack!

Travel light with Amanda Pouchot’s packing tips! There is nothing worse than having to transport heavy luggage through old cities filled with cobblestone streets. If you ever find yourself late for a flight or train, the ability to run easily after it will be greatly appreciated – so pack accordingly!

4. Discover new parts of your city without relying on a tour book.

To truly experience the unique culture of a city, you need to chat with locals and discover those secret spots that tourists don’t know about. I guarantee these will quickly become your favorites! Every time I visited Florence, my spot became more special each time.

5. Take the time to study their language and when you arrive, find a native speaker who is willing to practice speaking with you.

Your attempts at speaking the native language will be warmly welcomed by locals, regardless of your fluency level. To immerse yourself in your hometown’s culture, why not consider joining a local university and finding a language partner? Who wouldn’t want to become bilingual?

6. Enjoy the company of native inhabitants.

You’ll get an authentic understanding of the culture, as well as make lasting friendships. Language partners are a terrific way to discover all that this new location has to offer.

7. Maximize your cultural exchange by living with a host family, if available.

Immerse yourself in the culture of your destination, observe how families live and watch as your language proficiency skyrockets! Disclaimer: You won’t always feel comfortable, but that’s an essential part of the experience. When you return home, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for what you have back home and will cherish all new relationships formed along the way.

8. To enhance your resume and develop practical skills, seek out an internship or a volunteer opportunity outside of school.

Internships are not only an amazing opportunity to gain firsthand experience, but they can be incredibly fun too! On my tour of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, I was joined by one of my classmates. It was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences that I have had while here in Italy.

9. Document your thoughts and experiences by keeping a daily journal.

This may be obvious to some, but many people tend to begin writing about their daily life and then give up after a few weeks. If this isn’t something that interests you, there is no need to make it an obligation—though the practice of journaling can provide incredible therapeutic benefits! If you’re at a loss about where to start, try writing down the places you’ve visited and enjoyed, such as restaurants you’d like to recommend. Even in bullet point form, it’ll come in handy next time someone asks for recommendations!

10. Ultimately, perceive every stage in life as a thrilling expedition.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s wise counsel means the world to me. She once said, “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.”

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