Study abroad trips are upon us! Studying abroad is such an amazing part of the college experience and something that I HIGHLY recommend everyone take part in! Summer and fall trips are coming up shortly, and you may be starting to feel the stress of planning, packing, scheduling, etc. but I’ve been there too! First of all, don’t panic!! No matter how prepared you feel beforehand there may always be that slight twinge of nervousness before a big trip! Keep in mind, that traveling gets EASIER as time goes on! I studied abroad last year in Prague and I wanted to share my tips and tricks from my studying abroad experience that may seem random, but will hopefully make your transition a little easier!
1. First and foremost, coffee.
Europe is known for having amazing coffee (best cappuccinos, lattes and espresso you’ll ever have). If you're like me, iced coffee is an absolute necessity. I found that it was a lot less common for Europeans to drink iced coffee and it took me a few tries to understand what to say to get a somewhat normal iced coffee. If you try to order just an iced coffee, you might end up getting a slushy espresso shot with a spoon (not bad, but not what I was looking for). To get an iced coffee as close to what you’re used to in America, ask for an iced Americano! It took me about a month to finally figure out how to get a good iced coffee, so there you go, one less thing to be confused about when you arrive abroad!
2. Be prepared to say goodbye to some of your simple luxuries.
Being abroad for four months helped me to truly appreciate and love drying machines and dishwashers. Most of Europe is much more energy efficient than we are used to, so don’t be surprised if you have to share a tiny drying rack with your 4 roommates (clothes would take DAYS to dry). I promise, you will miss fabric softener when you are gone.
3. Do a little research about the PEOPLE in each city before you go.
Every city is so different and unique, as are its people. For example, when your in Italy, be prepared to be welcomed and greeted generously. My first night in Almafi Coast, our Airbnb owner made us a homemade spaghetti dinner (YUM)! However, if you find yourself in a city like Prague, the people are known to be much more reserved and standoffish. Don’t expect to even get a hello from most Czech people. To help minimize culture shock from city to city, educate yourself about social norms in each place you go.
4. Google Maps and Yelp will be your two best friends while your abroad.
I seriously don’t know how anyone traveled before these apps existed. Google Maps is the best for walking directions and so helpful when trying to navigate public transportation in each city! My friends and I used Yelp all the time to make sure we went to all the best restaurants. It’s also helpful to check out food and travel blogs for different cities to make sure you don’t miss anything really cool!
5. Lastly, don’t freak out about potentially forgetting things.
You are not going to another planet, just another country and I promise you, they will have toothpaste and phone chargers and other things that may seem crucial as you pack. Another tip, make a list of all the things you have to pack before you start packing! Our Packing List Pad is a life savor!
Going abroad was an amazing experience for me and I would do it again in a heartbeat! No matter how overwhelmed you feel at first, I promise you will figure it all out. I hope these little tips help to make your adjustment to living in a new country just a little easier! Bon Voyage!