As a study abroad student, one of the most exciting parts of the program is the opportunity to travel to foreign countries. As a student who is studying abroad in Europe, travelling to other countries is even easier. Almost everything in Europe is no more than a three hour plane ride away and the flights are extremely affordable in comparison to flights in the United States. For this reason, I strongly suggest that anyone who loves to travel to study abroad, and anyone who studies abroad to travel as much as you can.
As much as I love living in Valencia for the semester, travelling to new countries and experiencing different cultures is one of the most eye-opening things you can do. At this point, including Spain, I have been to 8 European countries; Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, England, and Italy. I also have one more trip planned before I leave to Greece. Before this study abroad program began, I had only been to two countries in my life, including the United States. This experience has broadened my understanding of different cultures and has increased my appreciation for different ways of life. It has also given me the opportunity to see some of the most breathtaking cities, landscapes, museums, churches, monuments, and landmarks that I otherwise may never have been able to see.
Though it is very hard to choose, as every place I have visited has been amazing in its own way, I think my favorite place that I traveled to during my time here has been Amsterdam. Never before in my life, have I seen anything like the canal system they have set up in this magnificent city. Every street you turn on offers beautiful bridges and waterways, which makes even just wandering around the city a great time. To complement the picturesque scenery of the city, the streets are lively with a mixture of natives and tourists who can’t get enough of the city’s beauty.
One downside to the very cheap flights that are offered within Europe is that most times, these cheap flights only allow you one carry on and to check a bag would be very expensive. So, packing for trips can be quite difficult when you are trying to fit three days worth of things into a single backpack. For this reason, when packing, make sure you only include things you are going to need on your trip. There will be so much to do, and so little time to do it while you are travelling on weekend trips, so things you do absolutely need, such as a laptop, that will take up space in your backpack, you should leave behind. Trust me, you will be so busy on your trip that you won’t want to do anything else.
Some obstacles I have faced during my travels have been delayed flights, language barriers, and spending a lot of money. There is nothing you can do about a delayed flight, so if this happens to happen to you, try not to get upset about it. This will make the remaining time of your trip less fun. So, instead of complaining, make the most of the time that you do have on your trip. Second, the language barrier for me in Spain is starting to become less and less of a problem as I improve my conversational skills, but when you are travelling to a country that speaks a completely new language than you have ever learned, it can be challenging to say the least. In most places, there are at least a few people that speak English, so if you need to ask someone something, you might be able to find someone that can help you in English. If not, at times what I have had to do is pull up google translate on my phone to be able to communicate with someone who speaks a different language if I needed to ask something. Lastly, some places you are going to want to travel to, such as London and Stockholm, can be very expensive. To college students like me, this can make it very tough. My advice would be to spend your money on things that are unique to the place that you are travelling and that you will not be able to see otherwise, and when it comes to other things, save your money. Some places are known for their good food, so in these places it makes sense to eat out at restaurants. But, in other countries the food is not one of the main attractions, so in countries like these I would suggest to save your money by preparing your own food.
My last piece of advice to people that are thinking of travelling is that while it is good to plan things about your trip, sometimes it is just as fun to do things spontaneously. There are certain things in each city that you are definitely going to want to do. These things, you should plan or buy tickets to, so you know you will be able to do them. But, there have been so many times when I have had a lot of fun doing things that I had no idea the city even offered, so make sure that you leave some unplanned time so that you are able to experience things you didn’t even know existed before you came.