By: Elizabeth Harris, @
It’s that time of year again! Many students have made the life-changing decision to study abroad in the destinations of their dreams this summer. By this time last year, I was accepted into Ohio University’s Politics in Paris Program. I had my flight booked, I was researching everything and anything about Paris, and Europe in general. My over-all excitement level was through the roof. Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made in my life, and I would give anything to go back again this summer. Here are some tips for first-time study abroad students to make sure you have the best study abroad experience possible!
1. Embrace every single moment
It may sound cliché, but it really does’t hit you how amazing of an experience you had until you get home and it’s all over. Take several moments “to soak it all in” and realize how lucky you are to be in the country of your dreams.
2. Travel to other cities as much as possibly
The world has so much to offer; every city is different. Especially if you’re studying in Europe, traveling from city to city can be extremely inexpensive. Utilize student travel opportunities, as well as discount airlines; I found a round-trip flight from Ryanair that went from Paris to Barcelona for only $100. In addition to Barcelona, I also went to Amsterdam and the French countryside. You do not know when you will have the opportunity to be back again; take advantage of as many travel opportunities as possible.
3. Don’t let the metro scare you.
It may seem intimidating and daunting at first, but the metro really is not that scary. It is an extremely efficient way to travel from place to place. You can easily download several different apps, that don’t require Wi-Fi, that will tell you the exact route to take when going from one destination to another.
4. Become really close with other students in your group
Your group becomes your family throughout your time abroad. You will spend every day with these people. So, even if they may not be the type of people you would normally hang out with, try to establish friendships, you may be surprised. Your study abroad friends may end up being the best friends you will ever make in your life.
5. Bring a selfie stick.
The selfie stick has become an essential travel companion for many travelers. If you use a selfie stick, your pictures will inevitably be amazing snapshots and memories to keep and cherish for a lifetime.
6. Keep an open mind
There are many different serotypes of the various cities throughout the world, which are not necessarily always true. For example, that the French are all rude. I found that most French people are actually extremely kind. Also, keep an open mind when trying new foods, using new modes of transportation, meeting people of different cultures, and much more.
7. Secure your belongings
Pick-pocketers are everywhere, especially in highly populated tourist areas and the metro. Make sure you are always aware of your surroundings and keep a hand on your purse at all times.
Sometimes you will find the best hidden treasures when your are least expecting to. Take the time to simply wander the city you call home during your time abroad. Without setting a destination, see what all the city really has to offer you. (As long as you are wandering in safe areas, of course!)
9. It’s OK to look like a tourist!
Chances are most other people around you will be tourists as well. Embrace your inner-tourist. Take thousands of pictures, do not be afraid to carry around a map, ask for directions, and overall have fun!