I’ve been studying abroad in London for almost a month now, and while I am certainly enjoying my time here, there are a couple of things that I wish someone would’ve told me before I started.
If you’re considering studying in a foreign country, or already are, here are some words of advice from someone with no particular expertise in the art of world travel.
(Stick around. It may be worth your while.)
1. You’ll Want to Keep Up With the Joneses
You may find that you are not quite as prepared as other people are, especially financially. Social media won’t help this matter, either. Scrolling through your feeds, you may see your peers traveling all over the globe, hopping from city to city.
If you’re on a tight budget, though, you may not be able to hit up every city. I know I definitely have had trouble swallowing that pill.
Don’t forget this, though: You will never again be in a foreign country for such an extended period of time. That means that this is the perfect opportunity to really get to know an unfamiliar place. There are so many fun day trips and activities right in your own study abroad location. A good time doesn’t have to be far away.
2. Unfortunately, You’ll Probably Get Sick
Mom was right: Pack the emergency aid kit. It takes one roommate catching something–and the rest will fall like dominoes.
Unfortunately, I speak from experience. You may think that you’re invincible, but news flash: you’re not. The common cold is a real bummer if you’re looking to maximize your time in a foreign country–and if you’re headed to activities every weekend, you’re more likely to feel run down.
Make sure to take care of yourself. Drink lots of water, eat as many vegetables as you can, and always wash your hands.
3. Ask if There’s a Student Discount
Don’t ever be embarrassed to ask whether any shop, restaurant, pub, bar, or museum has a student discount. More often than not, you will be surprised to find that they do, especially for college students. (If they don’t, there’s no shame in trying.)
Everyone can use some extra cash in their wallets. Consider this while booking trips, as well: Various forms of transportation offer discounted prices for students. It’s certainly worth asking, especially if you’re working with a budget.
4. Remember, there is Study in Study Abroad
This one is an unfortunate truth, but a truth nonetheless. There will be homework. There will be essays. There will be exams. Sigh.
I didn’t exactly picture myself trying to coordinate a group project presentation during my time in London, but that was my reality. Either way, try to put it into perspective. Classes are not only a different way to experience a country’s culture, but also a great way to make new friends–and if your professors are anything like mine, they may be helpful in giving you some tips on what to see and where to go.
5. Make the Most of Every Day
Your time abroad will eventually come to an end, so make sure you take advantage of every day. For a homebody like me, sometimes that’s hard. To solve this, I make sure I do at least one new thing every day, whether this is visiting a coffee shop I’ve never been to or taking a stroll down a block I have yet to see.
Make sure each day gives you a new experience, no matter how big or small. Your abroad experience is what you make of it, so try to say yes to as much as you can. (Within reason, of course.)
Nikki-Taylor Principe, Staff Writer
Nikki-Taylor Principe is a full-time student at Boston University’s College of Communication from Staten Island, New York. In her junior year, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a specialization in advertising. As a member of the co-ed a cappella group the Boston University Allegrettos, Nikki spends her free time performing on stage. And if she’s not doing that, she’s probably watching videos on YouTube.