7 Tips for Students Studying Abroad This Summer

Studying abroad is really exciting, but it can also be stressful and scary—especially if it is your first time traveling alone to a place you may have never been before. You might find your surroundings to be very unfamiliar which may cause you freak-out, but that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to a few moments of anxiety here and there, but hopefully I can help you avoid some stress with these seven helpful tips.

1.     DON’T pack a hair dryer…or a curling iron or a flat iron.

Yes, you want to make a good impression, but I am going to tell you that you will most likely never use them. By eliminating these from your packing list, you are saving yourself the trouble of dragging it around with you to every new city. Also, if you do bring these hair tools from home, you’re likely to blow a fuse and ruin them. So, if it really matters to you, you can find these tools abroad at great prices, or you can make a deal with some of the other girls going. Each of you can bring one of your hairstyling tools and you can share!

2.     DON’T pack more than five pairs of shoes.

I know this is hard for many of us because well, it’s shoes! You never know what shoes your outfit will call for. Even then, though, five pairs is actually a lot. I brought five pairs, but I only ever wore two of them while I was in Europe. I would suggest one pair of sandals and one pair of Keds-like gym shoes. My white pair of Keds went with everything, and they were not the typical tourist gym shoe so I didn’t have to worry about standing out. They were also very comfortable so my feet didn’t hurt after a long day of being a tourist.

3.     DON’T feel like you have to have everything planned.

Some of the greatest memories you will make will be from the unexpected. Before I flew abroad, I had almost everything planned out. I was going to go to these five places and visit these 10 “must-see” tourist sites, but boy did that all fly out the window. When you arrive, you are thrust into this crazy new culture, and you are meeting all of these new people. It can be overwhelming because most of the time you will travel in a group, but not everyone wants to go to the same places. You shouldn’t plan. You should just be open to experiencing any new place you can. I had not planned on traveling to Austria, but Vienna ended up being my favorite city I visited. If I didn’t relax my plans, I never would have gotten to see the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace (featured below).

4.     DO what you want.

This means that when you arrive to a new city, you should go and do what you want. If you travel to Amsterdam, some people are going to want to go see the Anne Frank house or the Van Gogh Museum, while others are going to want to go sleep or just enjoy the fresh air. Don’t feel pressured to do what the majority of the group is doing. Make sure you see what you want to see and do what you want to do. In the long run you will regret it if you don’t.

5.     DO have patience.

You will get lost, but don’t get mad or frustrated. Instead, have patience. When I arrived in Brussels, Belgium, I had no idea where I was going, nor did my fellow travelers. It was quite the dilemma when we couldn’t find our hostel. Everyone was tired and scared because it was our first week traveling, and we let our annoyance get the best of us when we really should have been enjoying what was around us. You may even unintentionally book a hostel an hour away from your intended destination, but you may find a really cool brewery in that city. You never know what will happen when you get lost. Just have patience and enjoy it.

6.     DO use the bathrooms in your hostel or on the train.

Why? Because those bathrooms are free! Well, you are paying for the hostel room, so I guess the bathroom is not truly free, but you get what I mean. You’re going to have to get over your germ phobia because every other public restroom will cost you! Having to go to the bathroom but being unable to find a two cent euro at the bottom of your purse is not an ideal situation. Even McDonald’s makes you buy something before you can get the code to the restroom. What’s up with that? Always have your coins readily available because you never know when Mother Nature will strike.

7.     DO pack a filtered water bottle.

There is nothing more satisfying than chugging some ice cold water down when its 90° in Venice, but what happens when you accidentally buy a bottle of sparkling water? You spit it out. It’s totally not what you expected, and it just doesn’t satisfy you in the same way that still water does. By bringing your own filtered water bottle, you can fill it up at the public water fountains, which are always still water. That way, you don’t have to worry about a costly mix-up.

You’re probably thinking that some of these tips are really weird or random, but trust me—it all makes for a major difference. You’re trip will be amazing. Go get ‘em Nolemads.