I love London. This city is truly amazing and overflowing with opportunities to learn, grow, and have fun. Even though there is so much to do within this city, I still made a few plans to check out the areas around me. I haven’t been traveling every weekend (when signing up for study abroad, you imagine traveling every other day, but in reality that is really exhausting and very expensive). So far I have been on three amazing weekend trips (including Spring Break). I have also made 3 day-trips, two planned out by CAPA.
My first trip outside the UK was Brussels, Belgium. It was the perfect first trip. It wasn’t overwhelming with tourists, yet there was enough tourism in the area making it easy to get around and ask for help. Also, I didn’t feel like I had to see everything, nor was there an enormous amount of artifacts to see around the city. For example, in Rome there are so many things to see and you feel like you have to see everything for it to be a successful trip. Brussels didn’t feel like that. We were able to wander around and get lost on the streets while admiring the architecture. We could stop at any place someone wanted to because we had time. It was almost relaxing (as relaxing as traveling to another city can get). Also, I went with 3 other friends (4 in total) which I feel was the perfect amount of people to travel with. We all have different personalities and different ideas of what we want to do, but we were able to do them all together without rushing to make sure everyone did what they wanted.
The next trip was Spring Break. I went to; Lisbon, Portugal; Madrid, Spain, and Barcelona, Spain all within 9 days with 6 other people. This was a little overwhelming being with that many people over an extended period of time. It was nice at points because you could break up and go places in smaller groups without feeling like you were forcing people to go into ANOTHER church. It was also nice to have so many different personalities and it made group pictures a lot easier.
Preparing for a trip depends on how many people you are going with. It also depends on the people. I found the best way to plan a trip is through google docs. Everyone puts in there what they want to do, and then you meet up about a week before the trip to decide what you do each day. I think the key in planning things like this is leaving time to get lost and walk around. Itineraries are good and useful, but having time to wander is fun as well.
Luckily I haven’t run into many problems while traveling. The only problem was one girl on spring break accidentally booked a flight for the wrong day. She found a flight for the day we were leaving but it was a few hours after the flight the rest of the group was on. She made it safe and sound, and we made sure to keep her updated with our whereabouts. It was actually a very easy fix for how stressful it was within the half hour of finding out what happened.
The best advice I have for traveling while studying abroad is to not be too ambitious, and also be open to places you didn’t initially think of. Go to a small town in Italy instead of Rome. Go to Paris and see everything you can. Make sure you balance your trips to give yourself a break. Also give yourself time to explore the city you are studying in! You are in that city to discover a new culture! If you are away every weekend, you won’t have time to know the place you are living in for 4 months. Take it easy, don’t sweat the small things, and have fun.