Picture this: You step off the plane, you breathe in the air of your new home, and it finally hits you that you’re going to be living in another country for a full semester. Suddenly, you realize you have no idea what you’re going to do with all your time in this amazing new place. And while the main objective while you’re there is to learn, there’s also a whole new location to immerse yourself in and countless memories to be made—which means you need a plan to make it all happen. Not sure where to start? Of course every country is entirely different than the next, but there are a few things that you can do no matter where you are to ensure you’re living your best life every single day you spend in your new country. For an unforgettable trip, here are 10 tips from our community members on how to make the most of your semester abroad.
- Visit a tourist attraction: “I always make sure to visit the major destinations in each city,” says Mary Kate Flock, a student at Fordham University. It’s fun to get off the beaten path, but be sure to go see the popular places and learn the history behind them to get the full story of the cities you explore.
- Attend a concert: “I went to see my favorite band in their hometown of London, which was amazing!” says Julia Michael, student at Liberty University. Experience music in a whole new way by going to a concert in a different country and seeing how people appreciate artists in various cultures.
- Explore the country: Temple University student Abby Muth says, “Traveling to other countries is great and an amazing experience, but I studied in London and spent many weekends exploring all it has to offer and doing day trips to other parts of England. I really felt like I could connect more to the culture of my host country that way. If you’re in a city, visit the countryside or the coast, and vice versa.” Take a look at all the things there are to do around where you’re living and soak in everything your beautiful place of residence has to offer.
- Keep a travel journal: “Write down what you do each day. At the end of your trip, you’ll have a collection of stories,” says Janet Morales, a College Fashionista alum. Be sure to hold on to any special mementos, like plane tickets and postcards, and store them in your journal to revisit later.
- Capture everything: SUNY Oneonta student Nikki Paradise says, “Definitely take tons of pictures and bring a GoPro.” Document everything you do so you can look back on it later and reminisce about all the memories you made. Want to make your photos feel even more special? Get a disposable camera, and then wait until you get home to get the images developed. Not only will your pictures have a cool old feeling to them, but you’ll have tons of photos to look at later that you’ve never seen before.
- Take advantage of your location: Julia also says, “Make sure you take lots of trips from wherever you’re studying so you can explore surrounding countries.” If you’re in Europe, for instance, you can easily (and often inexpensively) hop on a train and be in a different country in an hour or two, so capitalize on the ease of travel by visiting as many new places as you’re able.
- Test out the local eats: “Try the different food in each city you visit,“ recommends Nicole Buttrick, a student at University of Central Florida. You can’t fully understand the culture of a place without experiencing the food, so make sure to try the classic dishes of each country or city you visit. Plus, you just may discover your new favorite meal.
- Immerse yourself in the neighborhood: “Get to know the locals. I had a few favorite coffee shops and panini places I loved in my city and got to know the owners and workers, and they were just as sad as I was when I had to leave,” says Iowa State University student Payton Herwig. Become a regular at your nearest café and strike up a friendship with the barista. You’ll feel more at home, and you’ll always have a friend to return to when you go back.
- Go shopping: “My favorite part about traveling abroad, specifically to London, was the fashion. I got to see and try new trends, play around with my style, shop at fashion chains I’d never heard of, and find awesome local stores,” says Sabrina Kim, a student at San Diego State University. Use your time in an unfamiliar country to appreciate fashion that’s new to you—and maybe even try it out yourself.
- Take time to disconnect: “Turn off your phone for a couple of days and fully dive into the culture and people around you,” recommends Maura Sheahan, a student at Colorado State University. Focusing on the place you’re in rather than social media for a few days will allow you to experience the country you’re in without distractions.
What’s on your study abroad bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @moniqaaa.