Voices: Making the most of study abroad travel while in Europe

“Voices: Making the most of study abroad travel while in Europe”

by Gabe Cavallaro via “USA Today“‘

Segovia, Spain (Photo courtesy Gabe Cavallaro)

A month into your study abroad in Europe and you spot that long weekend coming up on the calendar. You’re feeling settled now in your new home and ready to be adventurous again, but this is Europe and picking where to travel is no easy task.

“There’s so many possibilities and every place has merit, every place is worth it,” says Alexz Craddock, the program assistant on the University of Georgia’s study abroad semester in Valencia, Spain, for the last two years.

Without infinite cash or time, it’s difficult to prioritize which places you visit, but you can’t really go wrong, she says.

Here are some strategies that might simplify the decision of where to travel while studying abroad in Europe.

Have a set idea of what you want to do

Coming in with a specific idea of which places you want to visit or things you want to do — and researching them — can make things a lot easier.

Craddock, who in spring 2012 studied abroad in Valencia as a student in the program she now works for, says she took two weekend trips to Italy because her whole life she’d wanted to go there. With an Italian heritage and stories of her parents’ travels in the country in her head, she used that impetus to book trips to Rome, Pisa and small towns in Tuscany.

Zach Pollack, a UGA junior majoring in international affairs and Spanish, says he traveled to Andorra over a long weekend during his current Valencia study abroad trip because he wanted to go skiing in Europe and he read that the country was the best budget skiing on the continent.

La Fontana di Trevi in Rome, Italy. (Photo Courtesy Gabe Cavallaro)

Go with friends

Pollack says where his friends want to go will be another important criterion for planning future trips.  Craddock says she decided where to go over the Easter break on her study abroad largely based on where her friends were going. She hadn’t made plans yet and so when a couple friends asked her to come along on a tour of London, Paris and Dublin, that was reason enough to visit.

Megumi Ogawa, a psychology major at Osaka University in Japan, says she picked her travel destinations when she visited Europe based on where she had friends living. This isn’t something everyone can say, but something to take advantage of, if applicable.

She visited Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Spain and having friends in each country was perfect because they showed her around and were able to translate, she says.

Use the “what’s cheap?” option

Don’t overlook the budget-friendly strategy, especially worth considering if you’re lacking inspiration.

Craddock said she and a friend traveled to Morocco, Ireland and Italy in 2014 after the Valencia program ended based solely on where they could find the cheapest fares. If struggling to decide where to go, you always pick which flights are cheapest.

“If Ryanair flies cheap from Valencia to Paris, you better believe we’re going to go there,” Craddock says.

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