Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Advice for Young Travelers While Abroad

During my stay here, I’ve developed some fundamental tips for anyone wishing to travel abroad! This is a simple, watered down list of things to keep in mind, but I hope you find this helpful:

Keep a journal. In what will seem like the very brief time that you study abroad, stuff will happen. Not just stuff – but a lot of stuff. In fact, I can most definitely promise you that a barrage of stuff is going to befall your path no matter how little or how much you plan for that stuff to happen. In the event that stuff happens to you, you will not always feel inclined to sit down and write about it; because, quite simply, it’s tedious work to document stuff. However, I cannot emphasize enough how much you will regret not taking record of the amazing things that will happen to you. Keep a journal, because not only will you thank yourself later for it, but others may be just as interested in what you have to say about your adventure abroad. Trust me, it’s worth the ten minutes of divulging your thoughts onto paper.

Take pictures. Wherever you go, there’s bound to be aesthetic beauty in your every direction. It can get easy to get lost in the daily drone of everyday life – the hundred year old buildings and riddled cobble streets may get tiring after a while, but do your eyes a favor and take notice of the way the sun falls on the trees, the way the leaves complement the street and the way your path to class meanders through the meadows. Or just take spontaneous photos of things that might look like something you’d like to remember. Your pictures don’t have to include the Scott Monument or Loch Ness; just make sure they are memorable, meaningful photos. There will be a point in your life where you’ll want to see things the way they were when you were there.

i.e. just happened to walk through this lovely bridge. I could not have imagined this photo to turn out so amazingly well!

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Read. Read. Read. As an English, Psychology and Philosophy student, the amount of reading assigned is ridiculous. Thankfully, most, if not all of your lecturers will do their best to supply you with those readings at the start of the semester. Once you start to fall behind, you will not just fall behind – you will continue to stumble on until Revision Week and – what do you know! Finals is here! So, as the slogan for our lovely goddess of Victory-named brand Nike would say: Just do it. Reading isn’t always fun, but if you do it, you’ll understand the lectures much better and be able to follow along. Furthermore, you can participate in discussion in your Tutorial groups and be able to ask questions. Not only that, you can have a look at lecture handouts and presentation slides to get a heads-up of what is to be expected. Being better prepared overall has never hurt anyone.

Be open. The semester is going to fly by – FAST. Before you know it, it’ll be the end of your study abroad program. It can be easy to get stuck in mundane routine ways of staying in your room or at the library, studying and only coming out to eat. Instead of keeping yourself closed-off and your options limited, let yourself be flexible. One of my most memorable times here has included an impromptu trip to Amsterdam with a friend from the States who decided to visit me in Scotland.

i.e. my first week here, I tagged along to any event that sounded remotely interesting. My wrist ended up looking like this after that first week:

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Your time abroad will vary based on where you go – and will most definitely reflect your attitude. Whatever you do, remain upbeat and stay optimistic! You’ll be sure to have a grand time.

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