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Kait and Penelope

By Matteo Travers, Verto Discovery Manager

How Pre-Departure Events Can Boost Your Experience!

Recently I sat down with two Vertoans, Penelope and Kait, who are currently onsite in Florence. They met during a Pre-Departure event and formed a friendship before even boarding a plane. Their experience adjusting to their new home in Florence was made easier thanks to the connections they made in pre-departure!

As a member of the Verto Community, YOU can build your connections, too! Read below for tips and insights from Penelope and Kait on how to make the most of your pre-departure experience.

It’s late afternoon in Florence, and Penelope and Kait are joining the call together. Penelope and Kait’s roommates are in the background preparing to cook dinner.

Matteo: Hey Kait and Penelope! Thanks for joining me to chat. Tell me a little about yourself.

Penelope: I’m originally from Houston, Texas. I found out about Verto through Baylor University, which I am attending next semester.

Kait: I’m also from Houston, Texas, and my plan is to attend another semester abroad with Verto in Prague in the spring.

Matteo: How did you meet? Walk me through the steps of how you got connected.

Kait: We met through the Verto Family Circle meeting that was about Pre-Departure 101. After we broke out to our location groups, my mom wanted me to introduce myself and I stated I was from Houston, TX. That’s when Penelope reached out and said she was from Texas as well. We decided to exchange social media info and then the rest is history!

Penelope: We did a few FaceTime calls and then planned to meet up in-person. We went to the beach together and shopping together, and we requested to room together as well. Our families have met too. It was really cool to meet someone before starting the semester in Florence.

Matteo: Did meeting someone through Pre-Departure events help you transition to studying abroad?

Kait: Yeah, it was definitely something that I thought really helped a lot, and it kind of made us feel comfortable in the sense that it wasn’t an awkward first week for us. It was really cool to be able to talk in between activities and ask each other questions. Because we arrived confident, we’ve also branched out with other people to try to talk and be like, hey, do you want to join us?

Matteo: You two are now in Florence together on the same Care Team. What does that look like?

Penelope: Yes, we are in Club di lotta, which means fight club in Italian, Johanna and Guilietta are our care team leaders. We attend events to earn points for our Care Team, for example we are winning right now. It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other and talk to new people.

Matteo: What have you learned about yourself and how you build relationships with others, both through pre-departure and your onsite experience so far?

Penelope: I would say being vulnerable; I feel like if you’re vulnerable with people and you just be yourself and you just talk, I feel like building relationships that way, it’s a lot easier.

Kait:Yeah. I’m kind of like an extrovert introvert type of person. I’m pretty social when it comes to meeting new people, so I’m able to easily kind of talk with people and just chitchat and meet other people, and I enjoy finding out new things about them. And then when my social battery is low, I’m like, I’m going to go to my room to relax.

Matteo: What advice would you give a new Verto Community member to make connections in pre-departure?

Kait:I would definitely tell them to not be afraid to ask questions and reach out. Because I remember during the beginning of that process I thought it was going to be a little scary. Also, tune into the events and stay notified. Stay on top of your pre-departure checklists that you need to get done before leaving too.

Penelope: I would add to stay ahead of the game and just get all your checklist items done as soon as you can. That way you’re not leaving everything towards the last minute. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to ask questions, stay involved by looking through all the pre-departure events.

Want to see if a Verto start to college can work for you? Apply today to get started.