Living in another country, whether you know the language or not, is an incomparable experience that every person should take advantage of if they get the chance. Staying in a foreign place over an extended period of time enables you to immerse yourself in the culture and intimately learn the nuances about a country that no travel book could ever tell you. If you choose to study abroad over the summer, however, you have a limited amount of time to experience the city where you’re studying. So here are some tips and tricks in order to help you take advantage of your time abroad for an incredible summer school abroad!
There are two types of people: those who over pack and those who don’t for summer school abroad. While it doesn’t matter which one you are, you should keep these tips in mind as you are putting clothes and other essentials into your suitcase. For starters, you know yourself and what you will wear and what you won’t. Don’t take those shorts that are so cute, but ride up every time you walk — you will want to have comfortable and reliable clothes when you travel. Also, if possible, aim for five pounds under the weight limit. This is because you will never know what souvenirs you are going to bring back or what clothes you are going to buy when you’re abroad.
2. Deciding where to stay
Aim for dorms that are associated with your study abroad program rather than finding your own living space. Not only are dorms usually safer and probably closer to campus, but they are also more likely to be in the best parts of the city. If you find a living arrangement through another company like Airbnb that’s not affiliated with the school, you’ll have to deal with all their rules and regulations. In order to simplify the process, I’d suggest living in dorms.
In regards to flights, I would strongly suggest looking for the ones that will fly you in overnight so that you land in the morning. Even though this means that you might have a harder time with jet lag when you land, this method will enable you to move into your living quarters and do a little exploring on the first day!
4. Student Visa
Have all of your documents printed out and ready to present to customs when you land in order to receive the proper short-term student visa. If you fail to produce your proof of acceptance and payment, they will not let you through and will pull you to the side only to wait for hours until they figure out what to do with you. Also, the border officials do not like to deal with phones so make sure you print out the confirmations and such on paper!
I strongly suggest doing your homework either at night before going out or in the morning after breakfast and before your first class. This is because during the daytime you want to be exploring the city— not holed up in a library or your dorm doing homework.
6. Going Out
With the drinking age being 18 in Europe, nightlife can definitely be a big part of your summer study abroad adventure if you want. Large cities like Paris, London or Rome can be dangerous though, so learn which neighborhoods to avoid and what roads are sketchy before hitting the town. That way you can have a fun (and safe) night out!
7. Touristy attractions
While these are obviously places that you will want to go to during summer school abroad, make sure you also visit more authentic sites versus places that are so commercialized. It might be a good idea to ask the locals what they suggest — since you only have a few weeks you should prioritize what you want to see!
8. Studying for Major Exams
While this might not be the most entertaining thing to do, it is an important aspect of your study abroad experience. It might be tempting to blow off studying and to just BS the exams but you shouldn’t do it. Studying abroad can look good on your resume — but only if you do well and put forth effort on your exams.
9. Stay a few more days
The biggest piece of advice I can give for summer school abroad would be to stay a few more days after your last day of classes. Before you know it, it’s going to be the last week of classes and there will still be a list of things that you want to do before you leave. You’ll probably have final exams and big projects due that week, however, and as a result have no time to complete these remaining experiences. Therefore build a few extra days into your schedule at the end of your trip— you won’t regret it!!
10. Write a journal
Last but not least, keep a journal. While this always starts out with the best intentions, most journals go unfinished. Even if this happens to you, it is always better to start one than to have nothing at all. Also, on the flight home, it might be helpful to jot down some of your favorite memories in detail so that you can remember the best moments of your trip. If you’re having a hard time thinking of something, look back through your photos on your phone — these will help jog your memory.