6 Tips For Researching Your Prospective Study Abroad Country

“6 Tips For Researching Your Prospective Study Abroad Country”

by Allie Mitchell via “ULoop

Studying abroad is one of the more exciting things to experience in college. It gives you a chance to see the world while possibly earning college credit along the way. You learn about different cultures and become more aware of the world around you.

Most people regret the decision to not study abroad while they can. They regret not going out of their comfort zone and leaving for a new experience and large perspective. Although, all of this is wonderful, but before considering studying abroad, looking into where you want to go, for how long, and any other things that are necessary should be priority number one. Continue reading

Before You #StudyAbroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List

“Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List”

by Roslyn Kent via “Huffington Post

Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail; get organized, check off that list and do your research before you go overseas to the United Kingdom–you won’t regret be over prepared.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by all the check lists, packing lists and shopping lists that you’ll undoubtedly be inundated with prior to leaving for your exchange in the UK. Emotions aside, the last thing you’ll want to deal with before you leave is the logistics of your exchange; unfortunately, your mom can’t do it all for you. Not sure what you’ll need while overseas? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do prior to leaving for your whirlwind study abroad experience:

Don’t:

1. Overpack: You won’t be wanting to bring all your unnecessary bulky toiletries. You will be able to buy almost all of them there (unless you need to use specific brands) and chances are, they’ll be even cheaper overseas (hello Poundland!).

2. Buy a roaming package for your phone: Phone plans are dirt cheap in the UK (the cheapest you’ll pay is £5/month or at the most, £15/month, which will probably included unlimited data and lots of texting and calling). If you extend your phone plan from home it will still cost you more, especially for data–you’ll want data in case you get lost. Try to get a month by month plan so you’re not tied down to anything. If you can, sign up with Three Mobile, that way you can use your phone for free in 10 other countries in Europe!

3. Pay for unnecessary visas: Make sure you’re aware of exactly which visa you’ll need while in the UK. It’s likely your home university’s study abroad office will assist you in this, but avoid seeking advice elsewhere (i.e. from friends who’ve never studied abroad). If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country then you won’t have to pay for a visa at all if you only plan to stay in the UK for six months. Research the different options and be wary of paying for a visa you won’t need.

4. Bring your hair dryer and straightener: If you want to avoid bringing home a broken hair dryer/straightener, it’s highly advisable that you buy a cheap one over there and share with your roommates. Oftentimes, North American hair dryers and straighteners aren’t equipped to handle the voltage of a UK outlet. If you’re certain yours can handle it then go ahead and bring it with you, if not, it’s better to be safe than sorry! . . .

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How to Plan Weekend Trips While Studying Abroad

“How to Plan Weekend Trips While Studying Abroad”

by Lindsay Robbins via “SR[Trends]”

If you haven’t already left for your study abroad experience this fall, you probably will soon. And one of the first things you’ll want to do is plan trips to the other countries you want to visit while you’re there. It can be a little confusing and scary to be planning all of these on your own without the help of your parents. But it really isn’t that difficult, and I have some tips to help you figure out how to book your trips, save money, and have fun on your weekend trips!

 

1. It’s definitely better figure it all out early, so that you can find cheaper travel and places to stay. If you try to book a trip a couple of days before you leave, the prices will be jacked up. By that point, people are willing to pay more as long as they get the trip, so that is why businesses do that. So avoid that by planning it all out early! Beside a spontaneous trip I took to London at the end of the semester (expensive!) and my trip to Greece after school ended, all of my weekends were planned out way far in advance, and I was able to get cheaper prices because of it. When my roommate and I first went to London (the end of January, yes I did go twice), we were able to get plane tickets that were only £34! Which was like a little less than $40. And most of our flights ended up being less than $90, and our hostels were usually pretty cheap too. RyanAir tended to have the cheapest flights, so we ended up using them a lot. Just be prepared for a chaotic and slightly uncomfortable trip. It’s first come first serve in the seats so you want to get there early!

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2. Using comparison sites when booking. If you use a site that shows you many options, instead of using the airline site or the airport site, then you will be able to find a better deal, for both flights and hotels/hostels. You’ll have more options, so you’ll be able to pick the one that best fits both your budget and your schedule! A good site to use isBookingBuddy, who will give you tons of choices for flights. You could save up to 50% just by using their site!

3. Know what you want to do before you get there. I wouldn’t say plan out each trip right when you book it (if you book early like I suggest), but a couple of days before you leave, you should check out which attractions you want to go. Often, if you check online, you can get discounted prices, or you can check to see if they have student discounts so you know to show your student ID at the ticket counter. Sometimes they’ll have packages for a couple of different attractions, which can save you money if you plan on going to every one of those places, but if you aren’t, then I suggest avoiding those. Some of the best things I did was free walking tours of the cities. First of all, it’s free, and walking is a great way to take in the city and figure out your way around it. Plus, the tour guide usually has lots of cool stories and things that you wouldn’t get from a bus tour. One time we even got to taste some cheese from Amsterdam. The only thing you pay for is tipping your tour guide at the end, however much you think it’s worth. You can buy tickets online so you don’t have to worry about finding out where to buy it there. So before you leave, definitely see what you want to do so you can have some sort of schedule and not completely miss what you want to do or forget a site to see.

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4. Use sites like Hostelworld.com to help you get better rates on places to stay. This is how I booked all of my hostels, and I had no problem finding nice places in good areas that weren’t too expensive. They have reviews from people who actually stayed there so you can see what they say and base your decisions off of that, so you know exactly what you’re getting at your hostel. To get the lowest prices, you’ll usually be sharing a room with more than just the friends you’re traveling with, but it’s always fun to meet new people! If that makes you uncomfortable, there are private rooms, and you should be able to find a place that will have those, or room that only house 4 or 5 people in a room, for a low price. . . . .

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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”

How to stay safe when renting an Airbnb

“How to stay safe when renting an Airbnb”

by Stephanie Gaskell via “Fox News

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The rise of Airbnb, the online home rental company, is undeniable. More than 50 million guests have rented lodging through the site since it was launched in 2008. There are now more than 1.5 million listings on the site.

With that growth comes a serious question of safety and security. We’ve all heard the stories of Airbnb guests trashing rental properties or disturbing the neighbors. But now a horrifying story from an Airbnb traveler who says his host locked him in his room and sexually abused him has renters on edge over just how safe it is to rent a room from a complete stranger.

Don’t be afraid to ask the renter questions or even to reach out to past guests for more information about their stay.

On July 4, Jacob Lopez was renting a room from an Airbnb host in Madrid when he says his host locked him in the apartment, began rattling knives in the kitchen and begged him to engage in sexual acts with him, according to the New York TImes.

Lopez frantically texted his mother back in the United States. She called the police station in Madrid but got no response. She called Airbnb, but she says they were unable to tell her exactly where her son was.

It’s a traveler’s worst nightmare, and while the Airbnb host denies the charges, it’s not surprising that Airbnb renters can find themselves in scary situations when trusting that the information provided on the listing is correct. . . . .

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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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