By Tierney Riccitelli, FFE 2015-16
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about being a student and working is when will I have time to travel, let alone do homework? But with the right balance, anyone can hold a job while in Italy, go to class, and traipse around Europe.
During my first semester abroad, I did not work for the first few weeks so I had way too much free time and was able to be out all night and wake up whenever I pleased (keeping in mind I attended every class I had). With all of this free time, my schoolwork was done right away and I had nothing to do on the weekends, although my friends had not yet learned time management. Fortunately, I was quickly hired as a student worker at Tetriz, the student print shop. I would go from class to work, sometimes back to class after, or from work to class. But I was never really stressed out and had to effectively manage my time. They give us some leniency with all of the student worker positions. If no students were looking to print and all of the work required of me was finished, I was able to work on schoolwork. By the time that the weekend would roll in, I was free to do what I wanted.
When midterms and finals approached, I was informed that if I needed to, I did not have to work. It was completely optional to put in hours during those weeks because the priority was my education. Even with having multiple papers due within one week and having to take written exams, work never really stressed me out. It was nice that my schedule had been based around my classes and it gave me ample time between them to put in quick study breaks or grab a nice lunch.
Traveling may be an issue for some depending on how much you wish to be away. One weekend, I left on a Friday afternoon and came back that Sunday afternoon. I took off one Friday so I could go to Oktoberfest and I had all of fall break off which I spent in Athens. Being in the FFE program, we had a weekend trip to Milan so I had to take off a Friday as well. We are not really supposed to take days off, but sickness and school are exceptions, so if you are looking to be away every Friday being a student worker may not be your ideal fit. However, having an income makes it easier to afford traveling and purchasing things for myself.
For me, not being able to travel every weekend was not really an issue. I planned on being in Europe all of winter break so I knew I could travel then and after having been in Italy two times prior, there was not a lot left that I wanted to see. Even if I wanted to, I could have taken a day trip to something nearby.
I know that for a lot of people living abroad can be expensive and a job might be the only way that one can stay abroad. Having a job is not impossible to do and I highly recommend it. One of my favorite people that I have met in Italy works next to me. Working at Tetriz allowed me to meet a lot of students that I never would have otherwise because we did not have class together. It also gave me a reason to leave my apartment on Friday mornings and make the most of the day.
For anyone afraid of being a student worker because of any of the issues listed above, do not be! I completely believe that if I can do it, you definitely can too! Just imagine how impressed your future boss will be when they see that not only did you study abroad your first year of college, but you also held a part-time job!
Duomo photo by Meredith Pollock