Cultural Experience | Boston

11 Things They Don’t Tell You about Study Abroad in Europe

When you first sign up to do study abroad, you may have some pre-conceived notions like I did. I mean with the words, “study abroad” you get the sense that your whole experience will be centered around academics, but that is far from the truth. Here’s a few things you should know before you go abroad.

Studying abroad doesn’t have to break the bank!

There are many countries in Europe that will stretch your dollar further than others. If budget is a concern, opt to explore Eastern Europe. Destinations such as Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Poland and Slovenia are absolutely beautiful, but don’t come with the hefty price tag you’re accustomed to seeing in places like Italy, Germany or Denmark.

It’s okay to skip a few classes

You are there to get an education, but an enormous part of that education is to reflect on the world that before was outside of your boundaries. Skip a few classes and go on an adventure!

Immigration documents are solely your responsibility

Maybe you have an international study abroad department at your home university or abroad. Regardless, YOU need to get that visa documentation in, because if you don’t all the consequence sits on you. Getting a visa ensures you can go on your trip or that you won’t become an illegal immigrant during your stay. Official information on visa requirements can be found here.

You don’t have to stay in one place!

Budget airlines are the best way to get around in Europe.  When other countries are an overnight bus or a quick flight away, careful planning can have you traveling every weekend and getting you back just in time for class on Monday.

The most important word you need to learn in any country is “Thank you”

Ask for help if you are ever lost or need help. Play charades in order to get your morning bread, or find a book in English, and then ask what “Thank you” is in that language, because it will be your most used word.

They’re asking if you want “gas”, not a “glass”
You will drink seltzer water on accident many times when you first get there, and you may grow to like it.

Pay attention to the pedestrian laws

Every country has its own social norms. In Amsterdam, those bikes rule the streets! In Prague, the countdown in red isn’t the amount of time you have left to walk across the street, it’s the amount of time the cars have left to go. Observe what others are doing carefully before you run across a crosswalk.

The grading system is different 

So a C in the States is okay, but in Germany it’s pretty good to get 70 out a 100 correct. Many countries don’t have consistent tests, but have end of the semester big projects to ensure you understand the subject.

Be patient in lines, because it’s worth the wait!

 There are some things you just can’t miss and waiting in line is something that shouldn’t deter you. The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Anne Frank House, Oktoberfest’s best tent, the Colosseum, and the Vatican all may have long lines but once you get there it’s worth the wait. So relax, kickback, and wait to see the most breathtaking sights.

Don’t forget your student pass

It can get you in for free at the Louvre and get you discounts in many places. Having a student visa stating you’re attending school in Europe can get you even more leeway at times.

Everyone knows American songs. Everyone.

If you want to talk to other international students, but the language barrier seems overwhelming, say an artists name. Before you know it you’ll be singing Mariah Carey’s Christmas songs with a myriad of accents. Music is universal and you may even learn songs from other cultures.

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Samantha McIsaac

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | 9 stories

One response to “11 Things They Don’t Tell You about Study Abroad in Europe”

  1. Nina says:

    Love this post! I’ll definitely keep these in mind next semester. However, I have one problem: housing. Do you have any other suggestions?

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