First things first; IT WAS THE BEST! I lived in London for five months and traveled to 8 different European countries. If you have a chance to go abroad during college or literally whenever, please do it. You will experience so many new and amazing things in a foreign country. Regardless of where you go, you’ll return to the states (as you will end up calling them) with a plethora of knowledge about other cultures (and the best food and drinks).
So, to make your study abroad trip the best it can possibly be, I would like to provide you vinas with some things I wish I had known before I left the USA:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DO THINGS BY YOURSELF 🤗
When you arrive in another country, you likely will not know anyone and this will be scary. But do not panic! All you have to do is find some wifi and download the Hey! VINA app. And while you wait for a ditto (VINA lingo for a match), familiarize yourself with the area. It will take probably about a week but orienting yourself is a much less intimidating task than it seems. You will be a local in no time and you’ll know all the fun spots.
IF YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP, PUT YOURSELF AND YOUR EXPERIENCE FIRST 🙋🏼
In my experience, long-distance relationships can be rough (mine have always ended in someone dumping me, yay!). So if you are on the rocks about how to deal with your LDR when abroad, I say prioritize yourself. As hard as it might be to put your relationship on hold and divert your attention elsewhere, it will allow you to be as in the moment as possible to fully enjoy your time abroad. I really wish someone would have been real with me about this before I left.
On the other hand, if you get into a relationship abroad, go you! (People who are foreign to us are very attractive). Just keep in mind what you want out of your experience and make sure that person will be supportive of it. I don’t recommend spending your entire time in Europe Netflix and chillin’.
MAKE SOME LOCAL FRIENDS
When I was preparing to leave for London, my British study abroad counselor told me that I would likely not be making any British friends. Apparently, since I lived a freshman dorm, they were not interested in adopting an older American girl into their cliques, and the older students went home straight away after class. Luckily, I was able to make some quality local friends who showed me the ropes of London life. If not for them, my abroad trip would have been much less cultured and diverse.
Had I had the Hey! VINA app, I could have made new British friends so much easier and faster. So, again, download it!
READ, READ, READ! 📚
Rick Steves is your best friend. Seriously. My boy Rick will save you from hunger, homelessness, and boredom. Rick Steves has guides for nearly every country and will give you the deets on food, hotel, and things to see. If you do not want to spend money (say, spend it on a $20 RyanAir flight to Italy), just check out his website, TripAdvisor, or TimeOut. Even though spontaneity in a foreign country may seem like a good idea, its always better to be prepared.
TAKE PICTURES AND MEMORIES FOR YOURSELF, NOT JUST FOR OTHERS 📸
This is the time to seize the day, vinas! So get off your phone and don’t worry if your Instagram is bomb af (which I am sure it is). Take pictures of monuments, buildings, friends, and anything that you find intriguing and beautiful. You don’t have to post them all, but take tons so you have something to look back on and reminisce over for years to come. Good luck!
(Feature image via @emeasterlin)