We’ve all studied foreign languages in high school and perhaps at college. Undeniably so, these courses inspire us to dream of being world travelers. But, learning about a culture in a textbook is different than experiencing it for oneself – more so than many students anticipate. Whether you plan on traveling abroad for a month, semester, or full year, preparing for your journey with these three tips will help maximize your time and ease the transition. You’ll be feeling like a local by the time you arrive.on Bon voyage!
1—Create a Bucket List: Even the longest of travel abroad trips will fly by as you immerse yourself in the land. To ensure you see each tourist attraction and uncover hidden gems, plan ahead instead of trusting you will visit the sites simply because they are staples of the region. You need to designate time to see hearts of the area or you’ll pass through them without pausing to enjoy the view, especially if you’re visiting for a month at most. Bring a planner to write down restaurants, museums, events, and attractions in the margins. Then, coordinate your plans with friends—you’ll probably have similar interests.
2—Do Your Research: Being knowledgeable and up-to-date will save you hassle while running around trying to cross everything off your must-see list. Use a tour book (that can easily fit in a travel bag) or dig online to prepare for most unexpected hurdles, such as a restaurant’s peculiar work hours or renovations at a public attraction. This “homework” will also help your wallet… the limited, ever-loved college budget. Most often, booking flights to other cities or reserving tour spots even a few weeks in advance can spare you funds which can then be applied toward another activity. It’s always better to have a plan of action for traveling than going in blindly.
3—Learn the Language…and Dress Code: It’s important to learn basic phrases of the host language out of courtesy and for safety. Residents will appreciate your effort to respect their culture, even if you butcher a few words, and you’ll learn more about the country along the way. Try downloading free apps or purchasing a language book for an easy start. If you have already taken classes on the language, you’re ahead of the game. But, I challenge you to brush up on your skills and study the dialects. You should also consider acceptable attire… this may be devastating or exciting for us Fashionistas depending on where you’re traveling. The goal is to blend in with the culture, rather than attract attention, so learning more about how to dress (and how to pack) is a smart move.
What are you excited for in your travels? Let me know in the comments below.