Studying abroad is one of the best experiences students can take advantage of while in college. It’s a chance to learn and explore all at the same time. From the outside, it may seem like an extended vacation, but be prepared for the bumps in the road with these ten helpful tips.
Before I get into the tips, let me give you a little background information on myself. This past summer I studied abroad in London for a month. I took a fashion communication class at Central Saint Martins. In that month's span, I created everlasting friendships, experienced a whole other culture, and began to dig into what fashion communication is. After my program was completed, I flew to France and Italy for a week to do some more exploring.
1. Pack Light
Luggage should be the least of your worries. Trust me; I carried my 50-pound luggage an hour across London - not fun. Pack your essentials only and if you need something, you can buy it there. When it comes to clothes, pick universal pieces you can mix and match. For shoes, my biggest regret, just wear something comfortable. I wore my Adidas practically my whole trip.
2. Buy A SIM Card
Obviously, this depends on the length of your trip and where you will be living. The cheapest and easiest option for me was buying a European SIM card. It also worked in other countries, so traveling was a breeze. There are many options, but the one I chose came with data so that I could iMessage my family, use GPS, etc.
3. Book Weekend Trips In Advance
Rumor has it flights are cheaper once you get to Europe… not so much. I paid double the amount because I booked the flights so last minute. Plan your weekend trips ahead of time and book the flight then.
4. Don’t Spend Your Trip In Your Room
As tempting as watching Netflix sounds, you only get to study abroad once, twice if you are lucky. After classes, you may be tired but try and visit something new every day. You will be thankful for those experiences over watching reruns of Gossip Girl.
5. Try New Food
Sounds simple but the thought can be terrifying. It’s so convenient to go with chicken tenders for every meal, aka my go to. But chose something you’ve never had before, you may find your new favorite food.
6. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Some of the memorable places I went to, were suggested by locals. They know the lay of the land, so take their advice. Plus most people will be friendly. While in London, everyone was so helpful if you spoke up.
7. Make An Itinerary
It just makes the trip easier. If you have a rough list of places you want to visit, restaurants you want to try, clubs you want to go to, etc. it is like drawing out of a hat every day. By the time my trip was over, I had visited mostly everything I had wanted to.
I can honestly say my smartphone made my trip run smoothly. Whether it was using apps like Duolingo to learn a little French before my visit to Paris or Citymapper (my absolute favorite) to get around London. They helped me feel a bit more like a local.
9. Take Photos
Living in the moment is important but you’ll want photos to share with your friends and family back home. As well as a way to look back at the memories you made.
10. Have Fun!
This is your study abroad experience so make the most of it. There is endless advice I could give you for studying abroad, but tips can only help you prepare some much. Don’t get caught up in the stress and just have fun. If you fancy studying abroad in Europe and would like to learn the language, grab 10% off Rosetta Stone
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