Travel Series Part 1: Studying Abroad

Summertime is almost here! That means a lot of you will be taking trips, whether it’s abroad or road tripping around the states. I thought I would start a little series on travel tips and ideas for those of you who are about to embark on exciting adventures. Part one will be all about studying abroad. In 2015, I spent some time in France learning about international communication and embracing the French lifestyle. It was an extremely rewarding experience for me since I met some of my best friends on the trip and learned so much about college life in another country. I also took the opportunity to travel to other places around Europe with a couple of friends since intercontinental flights are SO inexpensive.<—–DO THIS. I really had the time of my life, so when someone tells me they’re going to study abroad I get so excited and want to give them ALL OF THE TIPS.

Disclaimer: The cliché about studying abroad just being an excuse to go on a trip and party is SO not true. Lol, I’m kidding. It’s a blast. But you do learn. A little.

The Pro Tips:

  1. Don’t overpack. I know it’s been said before and you probably think that you are going to need every pair of jeans you own along with every cardigan, summer scarf, and top you can fit in your luggage. But take it from me. I stuffed my luggage to a nice 51.4 pounds and thankfully the airline let it slide on the way there. However, I did not take into account the amount of shopping that was to occur.  You will end up stuffing curling irons and shoes into your friends’ carry-ons hoping that the connecting flight from Paris to Rome doesn’t leave you while you beg the lesser-known airline to let you board, all the while trying to figure out how many pounds are in a kilogram.
  2. Being nervous is normal. Pre-trip jitters are inevitable, and for me, it happens with almost every trip I go on. It’s totally common to get a rush of emotions before taking off. You’ll be excited, nervous, anxious and curious about what is to come. I definitely shed some tears when I left my family at the gate. Flying to another country is one thing, but actually living in a strange town and going to school in a foreign place can be daunting. While the unknown can be scary, it is also eye-opening. It’s important to talk yourself through any worries you have about being far from home. Think about the opportunity that awaits you, the people you will meet and the places you will see. Once you arrive and fall into routine, you will see that going with the flow gets easier everyday.
  3. Make friends. I’m not going to say that going on a trip with a bunch of people you don’t know is easy, or that cliques aren’t formed. Thankfully, I knew a couple of the girls who were on my trip, and shortly after landing immediately formed a bond with three others. If the organizers of the program don’t set up meet and greets or get-to-know sessions, suggest one yourself. It helps to break the ice, and to get a feel for who you are going to be spending the next few weeks with. It’s crazy, but in a few days in you will start to feel like a family. It’s easy to relate to others in your group because it’s likely that they are feeling the same way as you.
  4. Take advantage of the experience. I can’t stress this enough. In twenty years you won’t regret the things you did do, but the things you didn’t do. On a free weekend  book a train ticket to a lesser-known town and immerse yourself in its culture. Eat the local cuisine, even if it scares you (escargot is amazing by the way). Approach locals when out at a bar and make new friends. Do the most and keep record of all of it. Keep a journal, take a ridiculous amount of photos and videos and save the songs you hear during the trip. They will always remind you of the time when you let your adventure flag fly and had the time of your life.