Cultural Experience | Resources

5 Tips From A Former Study Abroad Student

Tips and advice as you venture off to the place that you will call home for the next few months.

It’s that time of year again—students are embarking on their journeys across the pond. It is impossible to scroll through social media sites without coming across the sentimental “Going Away” Facebook status or the classic Instagram photo of a student with their large suitcases in the airport just before they board their flight. As I see these posts, I can’t help but become sentimental. Almost a year ago to the day, I embarked on the study abroad journey of a lifetime to London. My study abroad journey is one that has had a lasting impact on my life, and one that I will surely talk about for years to come. For those of you just starting your journey, savor it and make every minute count. You have no idea what is in store for you. Here are a few tips I have for you as you venture off to the place that you will call home for the next few months….

1) Keep track of your money – It is easy to get caught up in the wonders of being abroad, and when this happens, money is often the last thing to cross your mind when you are out and about sight seeing. After all, you will want to try new and exotic foods, go to the best pubs and clubs, and collect keepsakes. It is important to be responsible with your money, but at the same time, don’t say no to splurging on certain things. You only get this experience once! Make sure you are spending your money wisely and saving it for travel expenses.

2) Keep a list of your favorite places – Trust me, you are going to want this list later on in life! You visit so many places when you are abroad that it is important to document everything. Getting used to a new country is a whirlwind, and it is easy to forget the name of a favorite café you ate at or of the wonderful park you spent an entire day in. When you get back from abroad, you will want to feel like an expert of the city you just spent months of your life in. People traveling there in the future will ask you for recommendations…that is when this list will come in handy.

3) You can sleep later – You are never going to get this time back. You are going to look back on study abroad and think about how short your time was there. Even if it feels like a lifetime in the moment, sadly, it will soon be over. Dance until sunrise at a club in Europe. Take the 4 am flight to another country so that you will have the whole day ahead of you to explore. Live on power naps and caffeine because it is worth it to see that additional monument or to go to that extra museum.

4) Fall in love with yourself – This is probably the most important advice I could give to anyone embarking on their study abroad journey. This is a period of growth where you are going to learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible. Study abroad changes you for the best. You will come back to the states with a new perspective on life. You are going to meet people abroad who will open up your heart, who will make you realize how lucky you are to have the life that you do, and who will push you out of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these opportunities and to become confident in who you are…and don’t be afraid to be your beautiful and fulfilled self when you return to America.

5) Make the most of your weekends Frolic through the streets of Dublin. Ride a bike in Amsterdam as the crisp breeze blows through your hair. Drink wine and eat a baguette while taking in the sight of the Eiffel Tower. Visit every chocolate shop in Bruges. Take an overnight train to Switzerland. Run through the vibrant green meadows of Austria as if you are in the Sound of Music. Do all of these things because you can, and because you absolutely should. This experience is yours to keep in your heart forever. I guarantee when you get back, you won’t be able to stop talking about your experience. You made a home abroad and that home has changed you for the better. It is one that you can’t let go.

These are just a few of the tips that I think will help you on your journey. Now go forth and conquer study abroad!
eiffel tower

Katie Mitchell

Muhlenberg College | 1 story

A dreamer who falls in love with cities and people everywhere and anywhere.

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