I had a lot of alone time while in Sorrento, which I was grateful for after three very busy weeks in Florence. My roommate in Sorrento was NEVER around – literaly only for sleeping – and quite frankly, I was glad. (Not for any other reason than having a quiet room to decompress in. She, herself, is a really kind person whom I’m glad to have met!) I used this alone time to explore Sorrento on my own. I collected many more photos of doors (for a project I’m working on for my Mom) and saw lots of different parts of Sorrento that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I would walk for hours. One morning I ended up on a four hour round trip hike – quite on accident – but nevertheless well worth it! (Basically I turned the wrong way and just walked until the road ended becasue it was just that beautiful and peaceful!)

It’s very important to take care of one’s self when studing abroad. It can be an overwhelming experience and if you don’t, you’re likely to burn out at some point. Everything is new and exciting. There are lots of people to meet and places to go. But if you aren’t careful, you can end up not really maximizing your time abroad simply because you are completely strung out. 

As an introvert, you know it’s important tocarve out some alone time. For me, that often meant getting up early to have some quiet time before the days’ events started. Or if the day was long, I would retreat to my quiet room as soon as possible and call it a day. Yes, it seems silly to say it’s good to hide out in your dorm room watching Netflix when you’re in Italy, but it’s important to make sure you have time to decompress and recharge. For introverts that means quiet isolating activities. (For extroverts that would mean something entirely different I think – I’m not sure because I’m not an extrovert by any means. The older I get, actually, the more introverted I am becoming. Personally, I love this about myself!

Sorrento, itself, while charming and hospitible, can be especially exhausting to us introverts who like to be left alone as we go about our day to day tasks. For example, being greeted everytime I walked around a store…and at times followed around by the shop owner who was “helping me find the perfect gift” for so-and-so, as taxing. (I’d end up not buying something small that I didn’t like just to get out of the store quickly – true story.) In fact, after a few of these experiences, I stopped going into the small shops entirely. Ha! (Such an introvert, what can I say.) 

This is all based on my own experience and I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but my point is to pay attention to your own internal energy level and make sure you’re tending to your own needs when abroad. One thing that should be important to note is that when you’re abroad, you are – ultimately – the one one who will know yourself the best. This is good and bad. At home, I have my partner who says, “Sarah – you’re overdoing it – let me help – you need to take a break.” (Yes, he does this, he really is the best.) Abroad I don’t have him to balance my energy and excitement levels so I’ve had to be more cognizant of my schedule, obligations, assignments, excursion, health, etc. In this way, studying abroad is a great experience because you are forced to take care of your self – which is something many of us neglect in our day to day lives at home. 

Taking time to decompress and reenergize is as important as every other aspect of studying abroad – don’t neglect it or you won’t be able to fully maximize your experience!