Travel Tips for Study Abroad

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Arya Kirpekar
A nighttime view of a European city skyline.

One of the most popular and loved things to do in college is study abroad. It provides an amazing opportunity for students to explore different countries and cultures while still getting a meaningful education in their field. While it is an incredibly exciting endeavor, it can also be slightly terrifying. You are in a new country where you may or may not understand the local dialect with new people and that can be nerve-wracking.

I know I was nervous going into my twelve-week study abroad program last summer. However, I am here to tell you that, no matter what you may think, studying abroad is a one-of-a-kind experience that you can do. From what to pack and what not to pack to the easiest ways to make friends, here are my best tips for studying abroad.

1. It’s Okay to Overpack! (On Some Things)

One of the most difficult parts of preparing for study abroad is deciding what outfits make the cut for Instagram-worthy photos and what outfits need never to leave your apartment, let alone the country. While those adorable outfits are very necessary and fun to have, don’t overlook comfort. When you’re leaving home for an extended period of time, comfortable clothes can sometimes be a source of that “homey” feeling you may want. So, pack that comfort hoodie and your favorite shorts. You won’t regret it.

2. You Don’t Have to Do Everything Right Now

Studying abroad is an extremely unique opportunity to travel and do things all over the world. However, you’ll (hopefully) be able to travel more in your lifetime. You don’t need to do every excursion or tour offered in every city you visit. Pick a few favorites and save the rest for a trip back there. Some of my favorite days were unplanned and included just wandering the city.

3. Some Things Are Worth Spending the Money on If You Can

On the opposite side of my previous tip, some things really are worth spending money on. One of my biggest examples of this is a good meal. Traveling is expensive and food can be a really easy way to cut expenses. However, some places are worth sitting down and having a nice meal. If you’re going to Italy, pay a little bit extra to have a nice bowl of pasta for dinner if you are able. It’s worth it.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Strike Up a Conversation with Someone New

One of my favorite parts of studying abroad has been the people I was lucky enough to travel with. I went into the summer knowing no one I would be traveling with. That was really scary. I consider myself fairly good at making friends, but it’s not always the most fun or comfortable thing to do. My biggest advice for this would be to just start the conversation. One of my friend’s favorite conversation starters is an uncomfortable, but fun one. Without knowing her very well in the first week of traveling, she walked up to me and simply asked for my life story. My initial reaction was confusion, but upon telling her about my middle school experience and the concert that changed my life, we became so much closer. A simple, but effective question.

5. Push Yourself to Try New Things!

Last, but not least, while studying abroad in itself is a new experience, be open to more new experiences while traveling. Whether it’s going to a piano bar in Paris or getting a rooftop hot chocolate in Prague, those new things are what will make your study abroad a completely life-changing experience.

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