The Things I Did Not Expect: Gaining Confidence in Italy and Beyond

Lauren Moyer ’21 studied abroad during the Fall 2019 Semester in Sorrento, Italy. In this article, Lauren reflects on the benefits of being a solo traveler and the confidence she gained in herself and her abilities.

Being in Italy, there were a few things I figured would happen to me since I was so far from home. I knew from my research that I would probably become more mature, gain more responsibility, and be more independent. I also knew my problem-solving skills would improve with being in a new culture, surrounded by a new language and working in a new environment. I was always someone who was really mature for their age, and had a strong sense of independence. Essentially, I knew I would change a little bit abroad but I really thought it would not be much. 

Five individuals stand in front of a kitchen counter full of ingredients wearing aprons

What I did not expect when I arrived was that my institute (college) only had 28 students: five guys, 23 girls, and all Americans. This became an issue for me because I did not make friends right away, while everyone else did. I talked to everyone, but they all quickly formed groups, and I did not seem to find my “flow” in my new culture as quickly as I had thought.

Over the course of a couple weeks the students started to make travel plans, and it quickly became apparent I would not be a part of them. At this point I kind of figured I had two options:

  1. Try and invite people to travel with me or wait on other people, or
  2. Make my own plans and travel by myself.

I ended up choosing the second option. Despite my parents’ worry, with a young girl traveling alone for the first time, I planned a trial trip to Florence ( a place I had been before) to see how I would do.

After this first success, I leaped to traveling outside of the country to Oktoberfest and then a week later to Ireland for six days. I loved not having to rely on anyone, not having to wait or ask someone what they wanted to do. Yes, it was lonely sometimes, but I met people from all around the world! What a wonderful experience! I did the things I wanted to do and skipped the things I did not. I gained self-confidence, self-assurance, independence, cultural awareness, empathy, and so much more. I knew I could cook my own food, and take on my own responsibility, but never did I think I could navigate a whole new country on my own as a 21-year-old girl. Never did I expect to grow in the ways I did. If I had quickly made friends, I may not have learned how to be okay with being alone. 

Lauren Moyer - cliffs.jpg

To learn more about CIS Abroad’s semester in Sorrento, Italy, program, visit the website here. For more information, contact the Study Abroad Office staff and/or email

Want to share your perspective on studying abroad? Email us! We love to publish student opinions and ideas. Send all blog ideas to 

About the Author: Lauren Moyer ’21 – Fall 2019, Semester in Sorrento, Italy

Lauren Moyer is a junior International Business major with a German minor at Elizabethtown College. She studied abroad in Sorrento, Italy for the fall 2019 semester and is currently spending a second semester abroad in Marburg, Germany. While in Sorrento, Lauren completed a hospitality internship at a 4 start hotel in Sant’Agnello, Sorrento. She could see the peak of Mt. Vesuvius from her stunning view from the breakfast shift each morning!

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