Hey now! Hey now! This is what dreeeaams are made of!
If you studied abroad in Europe and didn’t pretend to be Lizzie McGuire at least once, you need to go back and try again. (Use this as your excuse to start traveling again!)
Personally, it would have been nice to know before I studied abroad that my experience wasn’t going to be anything like Lizzie’s: I didn’t find a cute Italian man to fall in love with, I didn’t become a pop sensation overnight, and I didn’t even get to throw a coin in the Trevi fountain!
While I was abroad I took some mental notes on what I would tell my friends to improve on when they got their chance to study abroad, so here they are!
1. Pack more clothes
Okay, I know this may sound silly because if you’re like me, you’ll probably end up doing a scary amount of shopping while you’re abroad, BUT, I only packed for one season- winter. I had plenty of jeans and sweaters to face the Austrian snow but I didn’t consider what I would want to wear when I went out. It would have been nice to be able to go to the local bar or club in something other than my puffy jacket and jeans. A larger variety of clothes in my suitcase would not have been a bad thing.
2. Speak in the country’s native language
When else are you going to be surrounded by it every day? I learned German when I was in Austria and totally took it for granted. I wish that I had spoken the language with the locals at restaurants or bars and really cemented the language in my brain. Now all I can remember is how to count to twenty and say good morning- my teacher would be ashamed.
3. Stay longer in fewer places
Instead of hopping around from city to city, stay in one place for a while. This one is especially important for week-long breaks. I spent my spring break in Spain- an absolute dream come true- but in the ten days that I had, I traveled to 4 different cities instead of picking one and staying. If I had just stayed in Sevilla or Granada, not only would I be less exhausted but I also would have been able to take in the full cultural experience.
4. The cheapest way of travel is not always the safest
All I have to say is this: RyanAir. These may be the cheapest flights you will ever book, but they will also be the sketchiest. Please, for me, splurge on an airline that guarantees a safe landing.
5. Push through that homesickness
Homesickness is something you will inevitably face while abroad- push through it! You’re going to miss your family, friends, and significant others, but as soon as you are home you will get to see them again. For most of us, studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, so live it up while you have the chance and don’t get caught up in your homesickness. Your homesickness can be cured a whole lot easier than your craving to go back abroad- trust me.