The Time I Studied Abroad, Blacked Out, and Woke Up In An Italian Hospital


If you ask an American what the best thing about studying abroad in Italy is, they will undoubtedly answer, “the food, the guys, and the scenery.” If you ask an Italian what the best thing about Americans studying abroad in their beautiful country is, they will 100 percent say “watching all of the drunk Americans make fools of themselves” in their adorable Italian accents. I spent my first three months abroad attempting to defy that stereotype.

Now don’t get me wrong, I gulped down wine as much as the next girl. I went out with my friends to all of the bars and the clubs. I showed up for class hungover on the reg. I just made sure to be smart about it. I carried a card with my address written on it in my wallet, so that cab drivers wouldn’t have to pretend to understand my slurred speech and horrible Italian accent in order to deliver me home safely. I always carried my shitty brick of an international cell phone. I had a spare 20 Euro on me at all times. I did everything right. Until I didn’t.

My roommates had friends staying with us for a week. It was a Tuesday and we thought it would be fun to hit up some of the bars and show their friends a good time. We blasted some music and downed shots of vodka like any red-blooded American college student can. We had been drinking more wine than hard alcohol recently, so we started feeling pretty good after a few shots. We poured some vodka in a water bottle (total freshman move) and left for the bus stop. Before we even got to the bus stop we had finished the rest of the vodka. It was going to be a good night.

We got to the bar and met up with the rest of the people on our trip and immediately ordered a round of shots. I went with my friends to pee, and that’s the last thing I remember.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. in a bed that wasn’t mine. I surveyed my surroundings. Stark white walls. Loud machinery. Rails on the sides of the bed. Either I was in a hospital or a really kinky guy’s apartment. I looked down at my arm and saw an IV. Definitely a hospital. My first reaction was shock, and that quickly faded to extreme panic. Where the fuck was I? How the fuck did I end up in the hospital? What the fuck happened to me last night?

I yelled to get a nurse’s attention, but she didn’t speak English. When I started trying to rip the IV out of my arm, she came rushing over. In my horrible, broken Italian, I tried to explain that I needed to leave and that I didn’t belong there. I got out of the bed and started running down the halls of the hospital. I could hear the nurses laughing as I ran past. I didn’t really have time to develop a plan, but the only thing I could think of was getting the fuck out of the hospital. I was about to start searching for an emergency exit when I ran smack into my study abroad program facilitator. Fuck.

Apparently I had stumbled out of the bar alone when I decided I had enough to drink and wanted to go home. I must have tried walking home and not done so well, because I had scratches all over my face from falling, and I had vom caked in my hair from laying in my own puke. Never looked better. When my roommates got home and realized I was nowhere to be found, they mass texted everyone on our program asking if anyone had seen me. Nothing. They called our program facilitator, who called every police station and hospital in Rome until they located an unidentified, stupid, drunk American girl. My program facilitator helped me sign the hospital discharge paperwork and put me in a cab to go home. The only thing I could think was that my parents were going to kill me for racking up thousands of dollars of medial bills in a foreign country for being an inebriated idiot. I was so dead.

The next day, after an extremely uncomfortable meeting with the program director and my roommate, we were walking home when she decided to stop to pick up food on our way back. We walked into a sandwich shop just down the street from our apartment, about a forty-five minute walk from where we had been out the night before. The sandwich guy immediately recognized me, saying that I was in there the night before and asked him to make a phone call for me. He pulled out his phone to show me the number I had him call and lo and behold, it was my home area code. A random fucking number, but at least I had the area code right. A for effort?

I washed my hair about six times to get the puke smell out and then slept off what had to be the worst hangover known to mankind.

The moral of this story is not to drink less. Drink as much as you fucking want. You do you, girl. The actual morals of this story are threefold.

1. Always ask sandwich shop workers for help. They’re more helpful than they seem.

2. Baking soda gets the smell of puke out of hair.

3. Emergency medical care in Italy is free.

Happy drinking, amici.

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