Okay, let’s be really real for a second. Your experience studying abroad is going to be amazing. Whether you go to Rome for a week or Australia for a year; the sights you’ll see, places you’ll go, food you’ll eat and people you’ll meet are going to exceed your expectations. However, there are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your trip to help make your experience THAT much better. Here are my “dos, don’ts and how-tos” of studying abroad; aka little nuggets of wisdom to help make your experience great!
- Bring plenty of underwear. Washing machines aren’t always readily available.
- Prepare yourself for currency exchange rates.
- Say yes to every adventure except for the ones you can’t afford. You may have to pick and chose which awesome journey to go on, and that’s okay!
- Be involved at your university—whether joining a sport or a group for international students, you get to meet people and often go on trips for less money.
- Keep your ticket stubs, boarding passes and school flyers as memorabilia. Steal coasters from bars or buy postcards at every place you visit for keepsakes.
- Get to know locals and other international students. People are cool.
- My biggest piece of advice: PACK LIGHT
“Pack lighter, go further.”
Wise words that deserve an entire devoted section of this article. These are possibly the most important words you should consider while preparing for studying abroad. Yes, I know, it’s hard to pack light! You’re leaving the country! You need all of your comfort knickknacks, your boyfriend’s baggy sweatpants and two different outfit combos for each day. False. In fact, this would be a hard DON’T.
“Pack lighter, go further” is a good motto to keep in mind throughout your whole studying abroad experience. Other countries DO have clothing stores and equivalents to CVS and Duane Reade. Don’t feel the need to pack for all occasions, stuff your bag with big bottles of conditioners and trot along all ten pairs of your jeans. Check your destination country’s weather. Bring a raincoat to England but buy a pair of wellies there. Wear your high knee boots on the plane, and top off your airport ensemble with that big winter jacket – don’t try to stuff it into your suitcase.
Speaking of planes, remember to check the baggage restrictions of the airlines with which you fly. They aren’t all the same! To avoid the hassle, just follow that same motto. “Pack lighter, go further.”
- Try to maneuver through public transportation systems without doing at least a little bit of research.
- Forget to call the parents periodically to let them know you’re alive.
- Let the first couple ‘new location anxiety and stress’ days set the tone for the rest of your trip.
- Keep things in your pocket you don’t really need—like maybe your passport? Definitely keep that somewhere safe.
- Travel with people you might consider your friend, but don’t have the same interests as you. You want both of your experiences to be enjoyable!
The How Tos (on Saving Money):
- Buy a eurorail pass to travel through Europe via train. There are a few different ticket options that are great and can even help you plan your trip.
- Use websites like Ryanair for flights or check out Student Universe.
- Use your student discount. Stores, restaurants, even buses and trains have discounts when you have a student card.
- Buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter if you’ll be hostel hopping or out traveling for the day to minimize how much you spend on food.
Feature image source: and jetsettimes.com
Carly is a travel loving, soccer playing, food obsessing third year at St. John’s University. She could wander through wilderness forever or explore the many faces of NYC for days, so some say she’s location conflicted. In the end, her travels through Europe, Africa and the UK have planted some serious wanderlust deep in her bones. Her life motto is to love people well and live purposely in every moment