5 Tips for Going Abroad Over Spring Break

Going abroad over spring break can be a great way to experience a new culture. It’s a perfect time - the much anticipated week in the middle of the second semester - for a quick, relaxing get away with your gal pals, family, or even with a study abroad group. However, going to another country or continent can be scary! What if people stare at your clothes? Or even worse, what if they know you’re a tourist?! Here are five things to do abroad to show respect for the locals and their culture.

1. Don't stop on busy walkways to take a picture.

Remember, these people live here. They might not stop to take a picture of the London Eye, but they might be five minutes late to work in the building next to it. So remember, try not to block off busy areas to get a picture. Maybe come back later when it’s less busy, or wait for a break in the foot traffic.

2. Know when to tip.

One thing that makes the United States different is tipping. Here, we all know the importance of tipping. However, in most places, tipping isn’t custom and only left in unique or exceptional circumstances. So, if you want to save yourself a little embarrassment and some money, check out what the tipping custom is at your destination. Also, try not to flash your cash around the town. While you shouldn’t rely on using credit cards, pulling out a wad of cash can be seen as rude, while also making you a pickpocket's dream.

3. Know the fashion

Now, I’m not talking about what color or prints are ‘in’ at the moment, I am talking about what clothes are culturally appropriate for where you’re going. If you want to respect the culture of your destination, it is super important to understand what is acceptable. While you may not agree with their social dress code, it is important to be aware of it in order to show respect and to avoid any danger. You will still be able to get the perfect Instagram picture!

4. Don’t just order American food.

It may seem hard when you see a burger or a hot dog on a menu and NOT want to order it in a foreign country. To some extent, it can remind you of home and perhaps is something that you know that you’ll like. But come on, you can have those things anytime when you go home, so try to step outside of your comfort zone because you may not get the opportunity again.

5. Use local public transport.

The United States is a LARGE country. If you grew up in the suburbs or even most big cities, you know that most families have cars and how amazing Uber can be. In a lot of places there isn’t really much to do unless you actually have a car. However, many international cities heavily rely on public transport. Places like London, Toyoko, and Paris have a bus and train system that is very expansive, to the point where trying to get a cab or an Uber isn’t worth trying. Older cities weren’t built for high populations with a lot of car traffic. Public transport is usually easy to figure out - there is often a type of card where you can reload money onto, and once you have a map of the trains you’re good to go! A train or bus will usually come within 10-15 minutes and then you’re off exploring!

No matter what you do or where you go, just remember to be kind and respectful and you'll have a great trip!


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