How to make the most of your study abroad experience

By Taylor Gilmore

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, and although it may seem like a semester is plenty of time, don’t waste a minute! It will fly by faster than you think. Here are a few tips to make the most of this crazy opportunity!

1. Don’t try to do too much.


The best part about studying abroad in Europe isn’t the food or the history, but the cheap transportation that can get you just about anywhere in a couple hours. Planning trips becomes a hobby (okay, addiction) and you just can’t get enough. You’ve been bitten by the travel bug.

See as much as you can and don’t miss any opportunities—but don’t do too much! It’s quite the contradiction, but when your time abroad is over, you don’t want to feel like you saw a lot but didn’t really experience it. Make sure that you spend enough time getting to know the city you’re studying in, and if you’re given the opportunity to squeeze two cities into a few days, opt for one and really get to know it. You won’t regret it!

2. Stop searching for Wifi.


I promise that you will be able to post that selfie when you get back to the hostel, but don’t waste your day looking for a Starbucks or the equivalent trying to get a connection. Appreciate what is around you and take it all in! All of your social media accounts will still be there when you get that precious signal.

3. Go off the beaten path.


There are cities that can’t be missed when you study abroad and I’m sure anyone reading this blog has their own personalized list of places they need to see. However, picking spots that are outside the normal study abroad tourist destinations can be good for your wallet and for your overall experience. Going on a trip that’s a bit out of the ordinary can give you a taste of local culture, a new perspective on a country, and probably some great stories to tell your friends and family back home.

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff.


So you have to pay the €40 to check your bag because it’s overweight. You missed your train. You got pickpocketed. Sh*t happens. You aren’t a professional traveler, and even they make mistakes. You can’t beat yourself up over every wasted dollar or wrong decision. Learn from your mistakes and try to be more efficient next time. But remember, it’s not the end of the world and things could always be worse! Losing your phone to a pickpocket may be earth shattering, but an iPhone can be replaced—you can’t!

5. Try absolutely everything you can.


Food, drinks, activities – do it all! Go skiing in Interlaken, try the local beer in Prague, eat Schnitzel in Germany. Learn from the people in every country you visit and make an effort to talk to people and get their recommendations. Your trip will be enhanced by their advice and the experiences you have that will only happen in the particular places you visit.

Safe travels!

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