It’s that time of the year when you are running around trying to stuff your fifty pounds of clothes into two bags, while having mixed emotions of what life is going to be like in a new city abroad. This feeling is completely normal, because you are about to embark on the most thrilling and exciting journey in your life. Here are some do’s and don’ts for your semester abroad…
1.) Do plan weekend trips ahead. The best thing to do is to plan those weekend trips to visit to cities and landmarks such as Prague, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Florence. The best way to plan these trips is through Bus2Alps. As the leading tour operator for student travel in Europe, Bus2Alps provides several discounted trips for students in Europe. If you are looking for cheap flights, try Ryan Air, with prices starting at twenty euros.
2.) Don’t over pack. One thing many student’s studying abroad in Europe should know is that they dress much nicer than American’s do.
Within a few weeks, you’ll be heading to the stores trying to fit in with the Europeans.
3.) Do plan on getting a SIM card from a local phone service in your host city. International plans can be extremely expensive. Starting a plan with a local phone vender can be much cheaper.
4.) Don’t focus on Social Media from home. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up with your family and friends when you come home. They would all love to trade lives with you.
5.) Do plan on going to Spring Fest. Nothing’s better than experiencing the German culture by spending a great weekend in the city of Munich, home of the annual Oktoberfest and Springfest. What’s better than drinking from a Stein, dressing up in a lederhosen/dirdnl, eating life-size pretzels, and shouting “Prost” every other twelve seconds. If you don’t feel like spending everyday at the festival, there are several things to do such as taking a bike tour through Munich and visiting the Dachau concentration camp.
6.) Do plan on doing things on your own. Staying with a group of friends is great to share experiences with. However, do take time to explore the city by yourself, and you will discover a lot about yourself and the city. You will not feel obligated to satisfy every person’s wants and needs. Take a solo day trip or a weekend trip by yourself and take the time to meet new people. It’s a real confidence booster knowing that you can travel the world by yourself.
7.) Do try to learn the language. It may be difficult at first, but nothing is better than enhancing yourself into a new culture by learning the native language.
8.) Don’t lose your change. Coins are worth up to one to two euros. Better hold on to that loose change.
9.) Do plan on going to class. Studying abroad isn’t all fun and games. Most likely three days of the week, you have to make the effort to go to class. Many classes can provide more insights on your host city and will only help you become more cultured. Most schools abroad only have a certain limit on how many times you can miss class.
10.) Don’t lose Keys/Passport/Travel Visa. You may have heard of several nightmare stories of college students abroad getting locked out of their apartment after loosing his or her keys at three in the morning. Best idea to do is to buy an extra set of keys so you won’t have to worry about roommates locking you out or even in some cases inside your apartment.
If you loose your passport/Visa, best of luck at the consulate.
11.) Do keep a journal or blog. It may sound lame, but it’s worth it. Make time for it and do it. Read it a few months later and you’ll feel the nostalgia rushing back to you when you read about all the little things like your funny inside jokes, eight-hour bus rides, and everything in between.
12.) Don’t give money to people asking for donations. While walking through the streets in Europe, you’ll more than once collide with a man asking for spare change to donate to a sick child. However, these are more than likely scams. Avoid them at all cost.
13.) Do take as many pictures as possible. When you are feeling nostalgic in the future, it is always great to look back on those hundreds of pictures you posted on social media holding on to the leaning tower of Pisa. Best thing to do is make a scrap-book of all your favorite abroad moments. One more thing, invest in a selfie stick.
14.) Don’t Pay Full Price. Bargain as much as you can. In outdoor shops, you’ll probably want to buy every item you see. If a salesman tries to sell you an item at full price, say that you only have this much and they’ll more than likely lower the price.
If it’s 10 euros, bargain down to 5.
15.) Do Have the Time of Your Life. Step out of your comfort zone. Make new friends. Spend your weekends traveling — don’t miss the opportunity to explore everything your new country has to offer. You will find so much about yourself and what you desire to be.