A new journey presented itself to me when I flew solo for the first time out of Minneapolis on Jan. 23 to the city of Rome.  This is coming from me, someone who has done mostly road trips across the country with my family. Because this is my first journey out of the country, I thought I would share some of my pre-departure traveling tips.

Arrive at the airport three hours prior to departure: You never know how crowded the airport will be when you get there.  In my case, my flight left at 1:05 p.m. in the afternoon, therefore I arrived at the airport at 11:00 a.m. and had plenty of time to spare.

Take in the view one last time: On that brisk Minne“snowta” morning, I had so much excitement that it filled my face with happiness.  I was ready to leave the comfort of my beloved city to spread my wings and travel to another place 5000 miles away. Although I rushed off to catch my plane, I wish I could have breathed in the Minnesota air one last time.  I was not processing that I would be gone for three and a half months.  This is the farthest I have ever been away from home.  I have been attending college for the past three and half years at St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s). However, I will now be starting my new journey at the American University of Rome in Italy.

Learn the language: Even if it’s common phrases, the earlier you practice the language, the easier it will be for you to comprehend.  The common misconception people have is that they do not have to take a language class. There is an app I found that is extremely handy for learning/practicing a new language. You are able to pick how much time you would like to practice each day. The app is called Duolingo, and it is simple to manage.

Triple check your luggage: When it comes to gathering your essentials for the trip, it’s good to be checking to make sure you packed everything you will need. Packing and unpacking your bag is a precaution I live by.  The two essentials I make sure to have with me during traveling are at least two adapter plugs and a fuzzy blanket that can be worn around the neck for comfort wherever you may be.

Charge your electronics: In the case of an emergency, or just for personal use, make sure to have your electronic devices charged the night before.  During layovers, I would suggest finding a place to charge these items while you have the accessibility.

Give/receive long hugs: Everyone has their own way of saying goodbye to their loved ones at the airport.  Some people can be so caught up in the excitement of the adventure that is in store for them that they are unaware of the emotions their loved ones are feeling.  Another person might be nervous about this new path and they feel the need to hug their family or friends goodbye.  At the time of my departure, I was practically on the edge of my seat eager to leave.  My advice is to slow down and take the time to express to the ones who are important to you how much you love them; you never know when you will see them again.

Converse with your fellow travelers waiting to board: Sparking up a casual conversation at the airport can lead to many opportunities.  You never know what you can learn from someone until you start the conversation. On my flight, I met Emily, a junior studying political science, who was heading off for a four-month-long study-abroad trip to Kenya, Africa.  She was all decked out in typical college student apparel and a high-tech travel backpack.  I could hear it in her voice just how excited she was to have this opportunity.

When I finally arrived at the departing gate that would bring me to Rome, I started to feel like I was closer to Italy.  The entire section I was in was filled with the beautiful sound of Italian conversations.  I knew whatever was in store for me would live with me forever. Rome, here I come!

Take in a deep breath, my fellow travelers, because you will never be the same after your wonderful experience.