There’s a saying that goes, “as many hours as the time change is from home, it will take you that many days to get over your jet lag.” Unfortunately, I discovered just how true that saying is when I made my 7-hour time change in coming to Italy!
There were some things that I did, however, to make my own transition easier, and I could tell that those around me were struggling a bit because they didn’t do the same.
1. Sleep on the plane.
Despite my flight overseas only being about 8 hours long, I was able to catch a few hours of sleep and that made all the difference. A time change that drastic already takes a long time to get used to, but on top of it, getting absolutely no sleep when you have to force yourself to stay awake for longer than usual is rough. Those few hours helped my eyes to be a little less heavy and a little more focused on all the incredible sights surrounding me.
2. Down caffeine like it’s your job.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m the biggest coffee and tea addict you’ll ever meet. But whether or not you’re an avid drinker of either, keeping that caffeine coursing through your veins is absolutely essential (especially on day one… yikes). Making a good (not so cranky) first impression on those that I would be spending every day of the next few months with was vital to me, so a latte or a green tea every few hours kept my tired body going enough to be as normal as possible!
3. Put away your phone.
A lot of people were very concerned with trying to connect to the nearest WiFi and update all of their friends and family at home. I’ll admit that I was guilty of this too, but I quickly (and thankfully) was able to realize that the people at home would still be on the other end when I got back to my hotel at night. Although my first couple of days were spent in London instead of Italy, there were so many new amazing things all around me that I wouldn’t have noticed if I weren’t paying attention.
4. Make connections everywhere you go.
From the second I got on my plane to go overseas, I was talking to people. I met three girls headed to Prague, one headed to Austria, and it turned out that a couple of them even went to college a couple hours from mine back home. Once I landed and got to meet many of the people in my program, I immediately pushed myself to ignore my sleepiness and be as bubbly and social as possible. Happy people gravitate towards other happy people, and luckily I was able to connect with some of those who are now my closest friends within those first few days.
5. Bring a cute pair of shades.
No matter how hard I tried to avoid it, my eyes ended up bloodshot and I had killer bags, especially on the first day while trying to adjust. My new friends and I took tons of pictures in our brand new surroundings, so remembering to pack a pair of sunglasses is what saved me from looking crazed and I can now actually look back and appreciate my first photos abroad!
6. Don’t complain about your jet lag.
Dude. You’re studying abroad. End point.