10 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad

“10 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad”

by Lindsay Robbins via “Sr Trends”

Studying abroad is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it definitely requires a lot of research and background knowledge. When I left to go to Barcelona,  I thought that I was pretty well-prepared, but I quickly realized that I was not, at all. There is a lot more to it then just going to school and having fun on the weekends (or weeknights). Here are some things you should definitely know before you leave to go abroad.

10 things to know before studying abroad

1. Make sure your credits will transfer.

This is so important. I know, I know, you already know. But, my Freshman year I knew a senior who had to take 24 credits each semester because she had studied abroad the spring of her Junior year and none of the credits transferred. You don’t want that to be you. So check, and check, and check again. Once you get there, check again. Don’t wait until you’ve come back, and your school says that you’re missing 16 credits to realize that none of them transferred.

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2. Learn Military time.

This is a useful skill to have. Since pretty much every other country besides the United States goes by military time, it’s handy to know. I was pretty lucky since I have been using military time since I changed my Facebook language to English (UK), which changed all the times to military time, so I had become familiar with it. But booking plane tickets and things, everything is in military time, which can get confusing if you don’t know it. (14:00 does not equal 4pm).

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3. Know some background information about your country.

It’s good to have some information about where you are staying, so you aren’t the ignorant American stereotype. Also, studying abroad is all about immersing yourself in a different culture, and learning about it, so you can have a head start if you do some research beforehand. At least know who the President or leader of the country is. Also, know what is going on politically, economically, etc. When I was in Spain, there were a lot of riots going on because of the poor economy. Frequently on my way home from class, I would see protestors walking down Passeig de Gracias. One day, a lot of teachers were cancelling classes because huge riots were taking places, and when I went to the scene after, there was graffiti and trash every where. So read up at least a little so you know current events and won’t accidentally get stuck in a riot. Or, as what happened on our first week, there was a street festival right outside, ending with a carnival! So if you have some information, you’ll know how to find these. . . . .

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Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City

“Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City”

by Lila Barton via “LEVO

Dispatch From Levo’s Lady Abroad: 10 Travel Tips for Exploring Any City | Levo League |
        Education, travel 2, lifestyle 2, traveling alone

Now that my time here in Florence has come to a close, I want to share a few things that helped me make the most of my experience. Exploring is an important part of life, as it forces us to learn new things, step outside of our comfort zone, and grow as individuals. But you don’t have to travel across the world to explore a new city. Maybe the most important city for you to see through a new lens is the one you’ve lived in your entire life.

If you’re going abroad, I hope these travel tips help. If not, try applying them at home. You may be surprised by what you find.

1. Spend (the first) two weeks being a tourist.

It’s easy to say, “I have four months to do that: I’ll do it later.” But the time goes by quickly. I made the mistake of saving a few major things for the last minute, and with only a few days left, including finals, it’s going to be hard to get everything done. If you need some help getting started, we found the best guidebooks to be those byRick Steves. His walking tours are genius, and he’ll help you get the most out of your time and money.

2. Take a cooking class and explore the local cuisine.

Every culture has a unique cuisine so be sure to learn a few tricks to take back with you! Local markets are a great resource for seeing how food is reflected in a culture, and they often have foods for you to try that you might not normally order.

3. Travel with a backpack when you go off on your weekend adventures.

It will force you to pack light (see Amanda Pouchot’s packing tips). Old cities with cobblestone streets are also not the best for wheeling around suitcases, and if you’re late for a train or your flight, you’ll be glad you can easily run to catch it.

4. Explore your city without a tour book.

This is how you find the hidden gems not overrun by tourists: talk to the locals, who know the good spots. These places will become some of your favorite, as you truly see a city when you get lost in it. I frequently returned to my spot in Florence.

5. Study the language before you go, and when you arrive, find a language partner.

Locals will appreciate your effort over perfection. If you’re applying these tips toward your hometown, sign up for a language partner through your local university. Who doesn’t want to be bilingual?

6. Hang with the locals.

You’ll get a real feel for the culture and may even become friends with a few people along the way. Language partners are a great resource for finding the right places.

7. If possible, live with a host family.

You’ll be immersed in the culture and see how families live, and you’ll see a huge improvement in your language skills. Warning: You will not be comfortable at all times, but that’s okay. You will leave with a much stronger appreciation for what you have back home, and new relationships you’ll forever value . . . .

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ADVENTURE COUNTDOWN: 33 DAYS

“Adventure Countdown: 33 Days”

by Whitney Blake via “Whitspeaks

Whoa. Thirty Three more days until I take my first flight alone and my first flight over 6 hours.

Im not even gonna lie, Im nervous. Like really nervous. The kind of nervous where my OCD planner self is absolutely freaking out at night before I fall asleep; mainly because there is an 8 hour difference between when my flight arrives in Rome and when my best friend arrives. 

I know thats not a big deal for the brave or travel-savvy, but for a girl who has never flown alone and doesnt know Italian, it’s a big friggen deal.

We are figuring out our plan today, and I can already feel the weight lifting off my shoulders. From picking our hostel and finally booking it, to me looking at a map and having a real game plan – it’s those little details that are helping me take a deep breath and mentally prepare.

Erica, my travel buddy, is such an experienced traveler seeing as she just finished up the Semester At Sea program and is doing an internship and taking courses in Spain now. No big deal, right?! Check out her blog here to read about her adventures from Burma to China to South Africa and beyond.

Now that I’ve shared my anxiety with the world Im sure you’re wondering what Im doing, besides biting off my fingernails, to prepare for the biggest adventure of my life!

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Things to do ONE MONTH before backpacking through europe:

/ / Make a trip calendar, if you havent already.
Narrow down where you want to go (generally speaking) after you get to that first city. We will definitely be going with the flow, but there are a few reservations that are cheaper (and guaranteed) if we make them in advance. Plus my family wants to have an idea of where I will be!

/ / Make hostel/hotel reservations.
Im a major planner so obviously I want to know that I have a bed with my name on it when I get there. Truly I think this is my biggest fear, besides getting insanely lost haha.Student Universe has been my favorite reservation site in all of the planning process, and I am making most all of my reservations there.

/ / Reserve flights/night trains that will get more expensive and may fill up

NOTE: dont reserve your small train rides while in the US. Tickets will be much more inexpensive to book while in Europe. Just be flexible with when you can leave and arrive, and look into getting a Eurail pass while in the US if you are going to be doing a lot of travelling.

/ / Find your backpack. 
You can choose to either buy or rent one so do your research and TRY IT ON. This thing is going to have your life in it for a few weeks and it is essential that it fits. Also, be sure to check airline restrictions so you are aware as to whether or not it can be checked, etc.

/ / Make a plan to get your crap back home.
Cool, so you’re travelling with just your essentials on your back, but how are you planning on bringing anything else back home? Mail it? Another Bag? For me, I am going to buy a small, and very cheap, suitcase when I get to Germany for my study abroad session so I can buy a few more clothes and stuff that thing to the brim with goodies for my family and friends! Then I will simply check it onto the flight when I head home. Much cheaper and faster than mailing a giant box internationally.

/ / Finish up your online shopping.
No one wants to pay for expedited shipping when they are already doling out thousands for this trip to begin with. Things I bought online (from Amazon):
Brita water bottle (with a filter in it) / / $9 / / my water will taste better anywhere! plus I can fill it up at the airport!
4 x 4GB memory cards / / about $6 each / / DO NOT buy just one big memory card. If you lose that thing your entire trip is lost and you will probably spend days crying. Avoid the tears and spread out the photos onto multiple cards . . . .

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When should you book?

Same is true of buying study Abroad tickets 🙂

When you should actually book your next vacation. Great tips for saving some dough on your next trip!:

via “Buzzfeed”

Studying abroad: Tips for doing it right

Studying abroad: Tips for doing it right”

by Savannah Steele via “The Red & Black

Last semester, I studied abroad in Seville, Spain for four months. I traveled every weekend, became fluent in Spanish and made memories that will last me a lifetime. I learned firsthand what it takes to wash and dye leather, what the sound of the daily Arabic prayer sounds like at 5:30 a.m., which type of gelato is the best tasting and what shoes are comfortable to walk along cobblestone streets in. I learned that saying you’re American is not always a good thing, lunch is at 3 p.m. and daily siestas are not only welcomed, but also necessary. 

I would not change my experience abroad for the world, but looking back, there are a few mistakes I could have avoided if I’d had some advice.

Savannah Steele

 First off, once you pick the program you want, call them. Each organization has guidance counselors to help your transition flow much easier. I asked my counselor questions concerning what types of foods Spaniards eat, what classes were most popular, facts about the city and what it’s like to live with a host mom. You want to be as prepared as possible before departing or you will suffer from culture shock. As long as you prepare ahead of time and feel ready to take on this journey, you will love it.

 Second, I wish I had looked more into my class schedule. Like you would here at UGA, you need to carefully consider your availability during the application process. The last thing you want to do is get stuck with a difficult class on Friday afternoons while all your friends are traveling around Belgium for the weekend. The key to scheduling classes is to leave room for travel; after all, class is important but this experience is about stepping out of the classroom and into the world.

Next, be mindful of . . . .

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24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015

Got any good ideas?~DB

“24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015”

by Team Fathom via “Fathom

24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites 2015

When we compiled our original 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites, we thought we were creating an index that would be useful for readers and for ourselves. Little did we know it would become the most popular feature we’ve ever published.

Three years later, the web has evolved and new talent has emerged. After considering hundreds of sites (the internet: it likes to travel), we’re proud to announce the 24 Best Travel Blogs and Websites of 2015.

This year, we’re honing in on personal journeys and very specific lenses people use when traveling. You’ll find a blog that distills the world into 12-hour itineraries, a website that catalogs the world’s best reading nooks, an online compendium of weekend jaunts from NYC, and a guide to traveling in search of the best oysters. Happy exploring.  . . .

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Where to Study Abroad: Things to Consider

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Once you have made the important decision to study abroad, it is important to find the very best place for your dream adventure. Regardless of whether this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip or a one-in-a-billion trip, finding the ideal location is a big process.

But the world is large and glorious in all its wonder!

There are approximately 200 countries in the world, and almost all of them offer at least one collegiate institution for you to study in.  So many options, so little time!  It’s mind-boggling how study abroad can open your horizons and offer you the world on a silver platter.

So making that final decision of where to go can be a bit tricky and stressful. To help you out, I’ve talked with several study abroad students and drawn up a list of ten different considerations that can help you narrow down the choices.

Tag Archives: who makes more money

1. Money

It seems a bit petty, but money tends to be the first element worth considering when choosing your program. Studying abroad is hardly inexpensive, but some countries and cities can take less out of your bank than others.  For example, China and Korea have somewhat similar cultures and many similar programs; however, Tianjin is statistically cheaper by far than Seoul.  And Japan can run at New York costs if you stay very long.  So look at the cost of living for your country choices, not just the cost of tuition!

Map of Europe and European Political Map

2. Extended Travel

Some places make it easier than others to travel around a bit. People who travel to Europe are pretty free to hop on a train and set off all around the many nearby countries. The trip from Paris to Berlin in hardly worth mentioning, and maybe next weekend, you could pick up Spain or Switzerland?  South-East Asia is similar in some respects (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, India, etc.); however, keep in mind VISA costs and requirements.  On the other hand, Hawaii is a lovely state, but travel to other places is hardly easy. Same is true of most islands or isolated countries.  The middle of Russia is beautiful, but you’ve got a ways to travel to get out of it. Moscow on the other hand, might be a possibility.

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3. Multiple Places?

Most students think of spending all their time with one program, but did you know it’s possible to do more than one if you plan it right? One summer, I picked up consecutive programs in Japan and China, spending the week in between relaxing in South Korea.  I carefully shopped around the different programs and found two that were close in time, but not overlapping.  Since I stayed in Asia, I wasn’t paying extra flight costs, it was just a matter of applying and being accepted to both programs. Think about the possibilities!

4. Extra-Curricular Activities

As I’ve said before, Study Abroad isn’t entirely about the program itself. Look into locations where you can pick up an internship or two. Maybe you know someone there who will give you a job or let you trail them at work.  Places where you can see some history and culture; watch some current major events; maybe even contribute some help of your own like a mission or volunteer program.

5. Career

Preemptively, you picked study abroad because it will benefit your career in some way. Mostly for the fun sure, but there should be some small piece of you that’s hoping this will help your future. So think about places that will offer the most resources.  If you are interested in Asia-focused topics (languages, history, economy, government), then don’t look at European schools. On the other hand, if you are all about Brit lit, the EU system, the debt crisis in Greece, Renaissance art, etc. then maybe Europe is the place for you. Once again, think about places where you can get internships, visit relevant businesses, interview beneficial contacts, do some networking.

6. Language

This one is obvious, but worth noting — are you interested in learning a foreign language? If the answer is no, then stop. Go look at programs in countries that speak your language. There are tons of places that speak Chinese, French, English, Spanish, Arabic, etc. Just find one in your language and go with it. If language-learning is not part of your study abroad goals, then don’t bother with the stress.  On the other hand, if you think learning a foreign language will be helpful or you want the adventure, then stop looking at countries that speak your language and find one with a language that looks interesting to you. 

7. Program

Of course, you can’t forget to look at the program itself. In fact, it might be one of the first things to look at if it’s at all important to you. Despite what it seems like, study abroad programs aren’t all alike. There aren’t a million of every kind in every single country.  For example, I studied law, and there aren’t law school programs everywhere in Asia. I had to shop around before I found one in Korea at all. Options were very limited. Same is true of many other programs. Study abroad programs tend to be for the arts, business, or some sciences. Other programs, you may not have much of a choice. So before selecting the land of your dreams and getting your hopes up, make sure a program you need is available there.  

8. Time

How much time do you have to spend on this excursion? One week? Three weeks? Five months?  Trust me, you don’t want to waste your big opportunity spending a whole semester at a school in the middle of no-man’s-land with little means to get out. One week there, meeting the locals and becoming familiar with traditional customs? Might be a lot of fun!  If you have a lot of time, I recommend picking a place that has several nearby places you can visit that interest you.

9. Safety

Of course, keep in mind your own safety.  There are a lot of countries that I have always wanted to visit, but I really don’t think are safe right now. For example, I’ve always wanted to see the Sphinx and Pyramids and parts of Africa, but Egypt and Nigeria have had some problems. As a single, white Christian female, I may want to find a different country for now.  Or think about the places that are having bad disease outbreak.  Maybe there are places for you that are less safe than others; don’t risk your life recklessly just for a fun experience.

10. Dreams

Don’t forget to think about your dreams. If there is that one place that you’ve always wanted to check out, now would be the perfect time. I once visited China with a friend who can specifically to see Pandas in their natural habitat. She loved, breathed, and lived pandas, and this was just a major dream for her. Of course, the program was good for her too, but she really came for the pandas. And that’s okay too!

Life is about being happy, finding the things that light up your world, making a difference, and reaching the dreams that lay deep in your heart. Take this time as the opportunity to do that – find the place you love, that home away from home. And enjoy the heck out of it!