I have studied abroad twice and have learned some tips and tricks to help other people who want to experience another culture as well. I have made my fair share of mistakes while traveling and would like to share with you all how to seamlessly study abroad. Here are my 10 tips when it comes to studying abroad.
- Take out cash in bigger sums. There is typically a fee when taking out cash in foreign countries. To help deal with this I took out larger sums of cash. In England and Italy, the ATMs had a five-dollar fee for transactions. With this, taking out twenty euros you are charged five more dollars on top of the conversion fee. I would recommend to take out no lower than 100 dollars to get the most out of your money. Studying abroad is expensive, so crunching pennies is inevitable.
- Get a Simcard. An overseas plan can be expensive. Some carriers offer plans for up to seventy dollars a month or ten dollars a day. A sim card is an affordable option, that still includes calling, texting and using data.
- Pack light. I have a habit of overpacking but remember it is important while traveling to travel light. Bring necessities, but also items you wear all the time. I always think I will dress nice while in a different country, but you get lazy. Bring nice clothing, but remember to dress for the culture. For example, if visiting the Vatican, or any other church in Italy your shoulders and knees need to be covered. I personally bring fewer things with me because I know shopping is inevitable. Bring a large suitcase, but never a duffle. Walking is extensive, from the airport to the town and then the campus. In your suitcase, leave one-fourth open. This open space will be filled by the end of the trip. Another tip is to bring a larger carry-on, it will end up being stuffed by the end of your travels.
- Do not bring items you can buy there. With a fifty-pound limit on luggage, while flying, items like shampoo and conditioner are not worth bringing. I would recommend bringing some small and travel-friendly toiletries in case of an emergency.
- Never travel alone. Being in another country is scary. Being in unfamiliar territory, the likelihood of getting lost is expected. Being lost and alone in another country is not fun. Getting to know people in the country is good, but always be with a friend when talking to them. Being in another country should not make you lose common sense. Remember to never enter a car with a stranger, or leave with a stranger.
- Expect the worst. Traveling can always go south. People’s luggage goes missing, flights get delayed, strikes are possible and many other issues. The best thing to do when disaster strikes are to always be ready for the worst. I once had a ten-hour delay in a flight. To deal with this I ended up going out into the city and explored. There will always be ways to solve your issues.
- Budget your money. Things seem cheaper in different countries due to the difference in currency, but remember they are not. One euro in our currency is $1.11 to the United States dollar. Next, a pound, which is the currency of England, has a more extreme conversion rate of $1.29 for one pound. Every time I study abroad, I spend way over the amount I budgeted. It is very easy to overspend. All experiences cost money and it is important to sightsee and try new things.
- Go to class. Even though studying abroad is a unique experience, remember you are still a student first. Good money is paid to be across the world, and a failing grade is a waste of money. Attendance rules are strict while attending class in another country. In Italy, I got very sick and missed one class. My penalty for the missing class was writing two papers, so I could boost my grade from a B to an A. Attendance policy differs from teacher to teacher, but typically attendance is mandatory.
- Travel. Airfare while in Europe is relatively cheap. It costs around 100 to 200 dollars for a flight to another country. Weekends are usually free, so exploring other cultures is important. If the price is right, I would recommend doing it.
- Capture the memories. There are many ways to capture memories experienced in your travels. I never did this, but if I were to go again, I would write in a journal. A journal is a great way to reconvict the experiences you had. Take lots of pictures, but not constantly.
I hope you enjoyed my tips and tricks for studying abroad. I found these ideas allowed me to have a smooth transition into another country’s culture. However, issues are still inevitable.