10 Tips To Be A Savvy Study Abroad Traveler
There are many things that make one a smart traveler when studying abroad, some of which must to be learned through trial-and-error. I have compiled a list of the tips I find most valuable when traveling during a semester abroad:
- Remember your passport and important documents to get back into the country. This is pretty self-explanatory but in order to get anywhere it is necessary to bring these things with you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I met one of my good friends by asking her for directions. It turns out that she was going to the same class and we instantly bonded over our lack of orientation. Had I not stopped to ask for help, I might never have found my classroom and I wouldn’t have met a great friend!
- Explore on your own. While making friends is essential to having an enjoyable study abroad experience, it is also important to be able to be independent. I enjoy walking through the city, exploring new places, and wandering into unique shops. The feeling of setting out on your own and successfully navigating a new city or happening upon a beautiful sight is extremely rewarding.
- Be flexible with your travel plans. Although having an itinerary, purchasing tickets, and making reservations are important for efficient travel, things do come up and sometimes you have to go with the flow. It can be inconvenient, but being able to adapt to travel circumstances (missing a train, having a delayed flight, etc.) is an important part of learning to be a savvy traveler.
- Know something about the place you are going before you visit. I am occasionally guilty of showing up to a new location and not being educated about the culture or history of the place. Upon Googling the place after the fact, I learn interesting facts that would have been useful had I known them when I was there. Guidebooks and a little preparatory research have made my trips both enjoyable and culturally fulfilling.
- As fun as traveling throughout Europe is and jet-setting every weekend, it is also nice to relax and enjoy the country you are in. Scotland has so many beautiful spots to visit and after taking trips to St. Andrews, Inverness/Glencoe/the Highlands, the Isle of Skye, and Glasgow, I feel connected to Scotland and I have a much better understanding of the country.
- Keep a journal. I don’t always write as often as I should, but writing in a journal is a great way to record your experiences and memories.
- Stay in touch with people you meet. By studying abroad, you are given the opportunity to meet so many different people from all over the world. In this technology-driven era, it is easy to keep in contact with people met along the way. You never know when these contacts will come in handy!
- Be spontaneous and participate in as many cultural activities as you can. It is tempting to be lazy and spend the day watching Netflix, especially when the weather is freezing and the rain won’t let up. But it is days like these that are perfect for jumping out of bed and going on a random adventure. Whether it is discovering a new museum, stumbling upon the quaint shops of a city, or popping into a cozy coffee house, there are always places to explore.
- Make sure to stay in touch with friends and family back home. The Facetimes, text messages, and postcards are all appreciated. And considering your parents are letting you roam around Europe for four months, the least you can do is call them and brag about how much fun you’re having!