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Culture Shock of the Month: You’ve Made the Choice To Go, Now What?

Making the executive decision to study abroad can either be a tough one, or the easiest choice you’ve ever made in your life. Most of your deciding comes from fear of the unknown or not knowing what to do once you get off the plane and hear a new language spoken predominantly for the first time in your life. However, if you’ve made up your mind and started looking at airfare, then this article will tell you what to do next.

First and foremost, you need to decide which city you want to live and study in to make your trip everything you want it to be. My advice is always the same: You need to go where your personality is best suited. Just as everyone has their own individual personality, so does every city in this world. My experiences are solely geared toward Europe, but regardless of where you go, you need to be aware of what you’re in for. Nobody knows you better than you, so start there; decide what kind of person you really are. Are you outgoing and thrill-seeking, or do you like to take it easy and relax in the evenings? What major have you chosen? Why are you going overseas in the first place? These are all things to ask yourself, but doing your research is definitely the second half of the battle. From what I’ve seen each and every time I went to Europe, no two cities are the same.
For example, Barcelona will offer you some of the best nightlife you’ll ever experience, and so will any city you travel to in Greece. There’s nothing quite like mixing beautiful beaches, historical architecture, and late night House Music. However, that’s not to say that every other city in Europe doesn’t have great nightlife. When I lived in Italy, I found out that Milan is known for more than just its food, fashion, and art. But if you’re someone who knows that you’ll be spending more time getting to know your major and the culture, then there are a few cities that would be just what you’re looking for. Cities like Prague, Paris, and Zurich will completely immerse you in the soul of the country. Cities that are inland versus cities that are on the coast tend to work the same way in Europe as they do in America. If you’re looking for a more “vacation” type environment, then head straight for the shore. If you’re looking for the museums and the parks, travel inland and surround yourself with more art, music, and culture than you’re ready for.
As far as your major is concerned, I can tell you that it’s not THE most important thing to consider, but it should be put into consideration regardless. No matter where you go, you’ll probably be able to study what you want and be happy doing so, but there are a few things to consider. Art and fashion are definitely dominated by Paris and Milan; the creativity and business side of the industry are very prevalent. London offers some of the best educational programs for politics, economics, and business. If you’re looking for a place to escape to and further your proficiency in music or art, I would highly recommend somewhere like Vienna, Prague, or anywhere in Italy. Either city you go to is going to be an adventure all its own, but it’s definitely good to read up on each city and be sure you’ll be headed where you’re supposed to go.
In all honesty, the possibilities are endless. If you’re going to take any advice, it should be to ask yourself where you actually see yourself. The rest will come naturally. If you do your planning in advance, you’ll have the time of your life and never once look back. 

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