My Only Piece of Advice: Go With The Flow

Students are told many different pieces of advice before studying abroad or traveling on their own. My advice is go with the flow!

My whole life, I have done everything in my power to maintain order in my life. I make my bed the moment I wake up. I make to do lists daily and even number them from most to least important to complete. I clean my room and make sure every little thing is in it’s place before I go to bed. Every activity I plan is scheduled and planned out. Personally, I always felt better knowing there was a plan. However, my grasp on my orderly life has loosened over the years, especially after traveling abroad in London last Spring semester.

Planning is Helpful to Some Degree

In the beginning of my time abroad, my friends planned every trip and researched the place beforehand to have an idea of what we all wanted to do and see. Yet, there were still moments where we ended up wandering around for a bit trying to figure out what to do because no one thought to consider the distance between sites or the cost. We wasted a lot of time discussing what we could do when we could have seen a number of things if we had simply planned our time better beforehand.

The Grand-Place of Brussels, Belgium
Picture Credit- Mary Simmonds

The Power of Wandering

Yet, it was nice to have the chance to wander around the city aimlessly because we were able to see sites that we might have never considered to incorporate in our list of “Must See.” Wandering about the city allowed us to observe the city as a culture rather than a tourist destination.

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Leads to Cherished, Unforgettable Memories

Once, my friend and I were trying to decide where to go to dinner while we were visiting Brussels, Belgium. We choose a restaurant that was well-known for its spaghetti Bolognese dish that was also nicely rated by the community. As we headed toward the restaurant, we found ourselves in a small neighborhood, which made us a bit nervous at first, but neither of us have regretted this mini-adventure. All of the staff had a friendly face on despite the restaurant being packed with hungry locals sitting or waiting to be seated. We were both given a chance to experience the culture of Brussels outside of the city, which is an experience I cherish and wish to incorporate into my future travels.

The famous Water Spout in Geneva, Switzerland
Picture Credit- Mary Simmonds
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Further Development of the Individual

Additionally, it is a chance to discover yourself as an individual person as you discover more about yourself through the choices you make abroad. One has already developed an idea of what he or she like to see when traveling from previous experiences and other people’s stories from traveling. However, people shouldn’t try to replicate another person’s experience.  They should spend time wandering around to discover new activities to do and see as well as tagging along with other people’s outings because it will be those random, unplanned experiences that will become their most cherished memories.

Myself on the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy
Picture Credit- Teresa Duda
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When you choose to go with the flow rather than plan every little minute of your trip, you can make your experience abroad and traveling different countries more personal to who you are as an individual. This has become a lesson that I continue to implement in my daily life, and one that I encourage others to integrate in their lives.

What’s your advice for the traveling student? Tell us in the comments!
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Hey everybody! I am a junior studying English Writing while double minoring in Creative Writing and Music. I love to read, write, ski, travel, sail, and sing. I spend the majority of my time with my family and friends, but my "me" time consists of lots of reading and writing. I hope to one day be a published author and possibly work for a publishing house as an editorial assistant because who doesn't want to read for a living! That being said, I prefer to read science fiction & fantasy, romance, and historical fiction; and I enjoy reading about fairytales, folklore, and myths. Some of my favorite series are The Selection series by Kiera Cass, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, and the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.