Tips for traveling alone

Traveling alone is likely one of the most daunting experiences you will face if you go abroad for an extended period. It is especially challenging if you don’t speak the language of the country you’re visiting. However, traveling alone can also be a very rewarding and confidence-building experience. Some people may actually prefer going places by themselves because it gives you more freedom to do what you want at your own pace. When I spent a semester in Morocco, most of my weekend travel adventures were with other students from my program, but there were a few times I found myself exploring alone. Even though it was intimidating, traveling by myself taught me a lot about myself and my abilities. Here are a few lessons I learned from my experiences traveling alone.

  • Plan in advance. This is not always possible, but you will feel much more comfortable going places if you already have your transportation and lodging figured out ahead of time. During my spring break abroad, I had the opportunity to go to Europe for the week. I went on a trip to Spain with my program for the first three days, but after that I ventured off on my own. I had to book all my own travel, which included flights and bus rides. I also decided to go to Florence, Italy to visit a friend. For that, I booked an Airbnb. The nice thing about traveling in Europe (and elsewhere) is that they have budget airlines—I flew from Madrid to Pisa for only about $30. Airbnb is also a much cheaper (and sometimes nicer) alternative to hotels and hostels. I had a very positive experience with Airbnb throughout my travels, so I definitely recommend it when you are looking for cheap lodging (check the reviews before you book though!)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In my experience, the scary part of traveling alone is not actually exploring the city or town you visit, but trying to get from place to place. After a week of relatively smooth sailing on my spring break, I had a very challenging experience trying to get from Venice, Italy back to Rabat (where I was studying). All in all, I had to take two boats, a plane, a taxi, a train, and finally walk several miles to get from point A to point B. It was exhausting, and I would have ended up in who-knows-where if it weren’t for a few strangers who helped answer my questions and translate for me along the way.
  • Be mindful of safety. This probably will not come as a surprise, but tourists are often targeted for pick-pocketing or worse in foreign countries. As a single female traveler, I felt that I had to be

    Michelangelo’s “David” in the Accademia Gallery in Florence

    especially cautious when out at night, walking in big crowds, etc. Luckily, I never experienced anything in my travels that made me feel unsafe. My advice is to keep an eye on your belongings, stay aware of your surroundings, and don’t put yourself dangerous situations.

  • Enjoy it! The great thing about traveling alone is that you have total freedom in what you do. You can pick and choose the sites you want to see, eat whatever you want, and rest whenever you want. I actually really enjoyed my time exploring Florence on my own, even though it was only for a few hours a day. I walked around the city and went to a museum by myself, and I enjoyed being able to go at my own pace. Traveling alone also gave me a lot of confidence in myself. Whenever I feel nervous about something now, I think about my adventures traveling alone: if I can do that, I can do anything!

 

Lydia Grossman 3 Lydia Grossman
lgrossma@umw.edu
International Affairs Major
Environmental Sustainability Minor
IES Rabat, Morocco
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Culture Shock: Expectations vs. Reality

Any student who is studying abroad has probably heard or read about the five stages of culture shock. As I prepared for my semester abroad in Morocco, I was warned about culture shock by both CIE and my program in Morocco. Not only was it incorporated into orientation, but it showed up in many informational packets and articles. So, I should have been fully prepared to go through the stages of culture shock, right? Not so much. As I discovered a few weeks into my semester, there is no way to truly prepare yourself for the emotional roller coaster that comes with being immersed in a different culture. And  remember, not everyone experiences culture shock the same way, but I hope to provide some idea of what you can expect based on my own experience.

On an excursion to the Sahara desert.

Before I went abroad, I romanticized the whole experience. I had many friends who had studied abroad and I was used to seeing their beautiful pictures on social media. It seemed like studying abroad was going to be a whole semester full of fun adventures.  However, I guessed it wouldn’t be completely smooth sailing adjusting to life in Morocco since I didn’t speak the language fluently and knew that the Moroccan culture was going to be in high contrast to the United States. This being said, I found that studying abroad was more challenging than I thought it would be.

The five stages of culture shock are: honeymoon phase, aggravation phase, integration phase, bi-culturalism phase, and finally the independent phase. Not everyone follows this exact pattern, though there is truth to this model. When I first got to Morocco everything seemed new and exciting. For the two weeks of orientation I loved the food, took tons of pictures, made friends, and felt incredibly excited to be in such a cool place for the semester. When we finished orientation and started our regular class schedule, I was abruptly hit with both physical sickness and homesickness—not a fun combination. I felt lonelier than I had ever felt in my life, and the idea of staying in Rabat for the next three and a half months seemed overwhelming. But don’t worry, these feelings passed! By spring break I had gotten into my own little routine. I had found a couple of cafes where I could work on homework or hang out with friends between classes and I had found some travel buddies with whom I explored the country on weekends.

Everywhere I went in Morocco, there were cats all over the place. (Luckily, I like cats).

For me, culture shock didn’t occur in five chronological phases. I had down days and up days. I had days when I would be cat-called (which is fairly common in Morocco) and it made me feel angry and resentful. Other days, I was thrilled to be in a country where the people and culture were so different from my own. Learning to thrive in another culture is a process, and sometimes it can take a long time. Though I was happy to be reunited with my family at the end of four months, I was also sad to leave Morocco. Culture shock is difficult, but it taught me a lot about myself.

 

 

 

Lydia Grossman 3 Lydia Grossman
lgrossma@umw.edu
International Affairs Major
Environmental Sustainability Minor
IES Rabat, Morocco

 

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Returning to Europe

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June 2015

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January 2017

My final post on the blog I kept while studying abroad reflects on coming back home after having spent five months in Paris.

On rereading what I had written I’m transported back to the moment when I was still in Paris and unsure of what the future would hold. At the time I felt that I could go on living in France indefinitely – it had left an indelible mark on me and I knew that I wanted to return to Europe in the future.

By this point in my study abroad experience I had incorporated countless new elements into myself, those every day aspects of living in a big city and little French quirks that I had grown accustomed to that I didn’t want to give up. While I had no idea what the circumstances of my return would be and while I had no definitive plans for after college I felt confident that I would be back.

Little did I know that would have the opportunity to return a little earlier than I imagined. Over winter break I had the opportunity to go back to Paris for three weeks to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and his family. I made plans to go to some of my old haunts and visit my first friends in the city. I was curious to see how it would feel to walk the streets almost exactly two years later.

There was a sense of instant familiarity upon my return. Landing at Charles de Gaulle, taking the RER into Paris, and navigating through conversations in French on the morning of my arrival felt like second-nature in some ways. In reminiscing I was brought back to my first arrival, when the feeling of exoticism characterized my initial moments and I started comparing the romantic visions that I held of Paris against what I actually saw and felt.

I remember learning that living in a place for an extended amount of time is quite different than taking a quick holiday. Commitment to residing somewhere allows the opportunity for a deeper intimacy to form. Sometimes this meant that I experienced deeper annoyance towards something in the city than might an overnight traveler, for example, but I felt that as I was in a more longstanding relationship with Paris I had the right to those feelings.

On coming back, in some ways it was almost as if I had never left. Except this time I was simply a three week visitor, a passer through, and returning was familiar but also incomplete in some ways. I couldn’t get over how strange it was not to be living with my host family or seeing the other Americans from my program every day and it felt wrong to be in Paris with such a definite departure date. This feeling would only be resolved if I made plans to come back, this time a little more permanently.

Now graduation is only two months away and I am currently applying to graduate programs in France. My plans still aren’t quite definitive and I have no way of knowing exactly what the future will hold, but I feel closer to achieving what I desired as a 19-year-old sitting on a bench in Paris, France reflecting on life after college.

SarahDickshinskiAPIParis15-1 Sarah Dickshinski
sdickshi@umw.edu
Anthropology Major
French Major
Middle Eastern Studies Minor
API Semester Abroad in Paris, France
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Learning to Assimilate Abroad

One of the most difficult aspects of studying abroad is being able to learn how to assimilate to the local culture. I know that I certainly struggled with this during my stay in Spain. However, having already experienced that struggle, I now have some tips that I can share with future study abroad students.

  • Do not be afraid of making mistakes! – This is something that cannot be stressed enough. Please do not be afraid of making mistakes when studying abroad. This can include cultural mistakes, such as not placing your silverware correctly on your plate after having finished eating, or linguistically, simply saying something completely wrong. I highly doubt that natives would expect you to be able to perfectly navigate your way through a foreign culture. So if they accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes, you should as well.

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  • Put yourself out there! – I know that being in a foreign country can be a very scary experience, and that it can also be very overwhelming. However, in order to fully benefit from your study abroad experience, it is necessary that you go out of your way to get to know the local people, the place where you’re living and the language that is spoken. For example, when I lived in Spain, I would do several events with Erasmus Bilbao which really helped me make not only local friends, but friends from around the world. I ended up climbing a mountain, albeit a very small one, and making friends from Austria, Germany, Mexico and several from Spain.
  • Speak the language as much as you can! – Speaking the local language is probably one of the most challenging – yet most rewarding – experiences yet. Learning a language that is different from your native one can be a very daunting experience. You are going to make mistakes, plenty of them, even if you’ve already studied the language for some period of time. For example, before going to Spain, I had already studied Spanish for a good seven years, and yet, upon arriving in Spain found that I could barely understand anything that the people were saying. Believe me when I say that this was extremely frustrating. However, instead of allowing this to discourage me, I chose to remember why I wanted to study abroad in the first place, to master the Spanish language. It took a good while, but after almost three full months of living in Spain I finally broke the language barrier. I can now understand virtually everything that people say when they speak in Spanish, which is such an amazing feeling. Having a better grasp of listening has helped me become a better speaker as well, which has already been useful after having returned from Spain. The moral of the story is, do not give up on learning a foreign language! You can and you will do it!
  • Live with a host family – I would say that this tip is not required for having a great experience abroad, however, it will definitely help you assimilate to the foreign culture and learn their norms, as well as greatly help you with your language. Looking back, I can honestly say that one of the most rewarding experiences of my study abroad experience was the bond that I made with my host mother. She was unbelievably understanding, kind and patient with me as I waded through the intricacies of Spanish culture. She even showed me various places in and around Bilbao, which really helped to make me feel at home. Although it may not be a necessity, I highly recommend that you live with a host family to best understand the country that you’re living in.

I hope that these tips helped ease your nerves in some way about studying abroad. I know that this entire process may be scary and frightening, but studying abroad will help give you a better understanding of the world we live in as well as opening up a world of opportunities, both at home and abroad.

sean-coleman Sean Coleman
scolema4@umw.edu
Spanish Major
Linguistics Major
University of Deusto, Spain
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Making the most of your homestay

Many study abroad programs include the opportunity to stay with a host family rather than living independently or in student housing. It may seem intimidating to spend your entire time abroad in someone else’s home, but I highly recommend staying with a host family if you have the option. It is one of the best ways to get a truly immersive cultural experience. During my four months in Rabat, Morocco, I stayed with a host family, and it was one of the best parts of my experience. Here are a few things I learned:

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Traditional Moroccan couscous at my homestay – my favorite meal!

  • Offer to help out around the house
    • Cooking, cleaning, or just relaxing—these are some of the ways I bonded with my host family when I was abroad. My host mother was a great cook and baker, and some of my favorite memories from Morocco are from helping her in the kitchen. She once hosted a whole group of students from my program to show us how to make classic Moroccan couscous.
  • Try your best to communicate
    • If you are in a non-English speaking country, staying with a host family can really put you out of your comfort zone at first. Of the five people in my host family, only my host brother spoke any English. I felt intimidated at the prospect of only being able to communicate my needs in Arabic, but my host family was always incredibly patient with me and willing to play charades if necessary. My language skills improved more in conversations with my host mom than in any Arabic class I’ve taken.
  • Hang out with them outside the house
    • One of the best ways to get a feel for life in a foreign country is to spend time with locals. Staying with a host family provided this opportunity for me. One of the most memorable experiences I have from Morocco is going to the “hammam,” which is a public bath house, with my host mom. There is really no equivalent experience to the hammam in the US, so it’s difficult to describe what it feels like to be very thoroughly scrubbed down in front of a room full of naked Moroccan women. It’s intense. But despite my initial discomfort, I found that this was a great bonding experience with my host mom. Spending time with my host family also gave me the chance to participate in some of the social customs of the country where I was living.

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      My American roommate and me with our host mom and host sister in Rabat.

  • Stay in touch!
    • Almost everyone I know who lived with a host family abroad says it was one of the most meaningful parts of their experience. This was definitely true for me as well. I was so grateful for my host mom throughout my stay, and she was always there for me when I was feeling blue. Your relationship with your host family can continue even after you leave. With social media, it’s much easier to stay in touch with friends abroad. My host mom promised to house and feed me anytime I return to Morocco, and I genuinely plan to take her up on her offer someday.

 

Lydia Grossman 3 Lydia Grossman
lgrossma@umw.edu
International Affairs Major
Environmental Sustainability Minor
IES Rabat, Morocco
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Can I Stay [Forever]? : On Returning Home After Study Abroad

What you’ve feared since first leaving the United States a few months ago has arrived: coming home. Perhaps settling into your country was a little rough at first – homesick and unsure of how to feel in your new surroundings you adjusted slowly to the terrain. Or, perhaps your experience was smooth sailing from the get-go and with one foot barely off of the plane you immediately felt like you were part of the scene. Or maybe like most of us, you found yourself somewhere between the two and acclimated at your own pace.

No matter the initial sentiment, you ultimately became enamored with your destination. Any pangs of uncertainty that you experienced faded into distant memory and you don’t mean to brag, but you know your destination pretty well by this point and you think you share a pretty deep bond.

And you are not at all ready to leave. How could you be when there are a million reasons for you to stay abroad?

For starters, there are too many places left to see and you can’t possibly return to the U.S. without crossing at least five (or ten) more destinations off of your list.

The local friends that you made would miss you far too much for you to even think of departing before next spring, or maybe even next summer. “Why did I choose to study abroad for just one semester?” is a question you find yourself asking daily.

You have grown accustomed to speaking in the language of your country and are quite convinced that you have drastically lost the ability to operate in English.

You are also distantly aware of a recent event that took place in the U.S. that caused a big stir. What was it again? It’s on the tip of your tongue… Oh yes! The presidential election. Just another reason why you think it might be in your best interest to stay away for a while.

And though you have spent just a few months away, your experience feels like a separate lifetime because it is so distinct from anything that you’ve ever done before. And the world has actually changed! It’s widened and expanded and altogether grown in ways that you couldn’t have imagined. Why does no one else seem to have noticed?

img_8468_editedIt may go without saying that coming home could be a shock at first and readjusting to the United States may take a little time. It’s important that you spend time processing your experience. Write about it! If you didn’t journal or keep a blog while you were abroad, now is still a good time to record your experiences because they’re still vivid in your mind. And share your stories with friends, family, as well as anyone that happens to be around you.

Make sure to stay in touch with the local people that you met abroad. The relationships that you made in your host country are invaluable and you should do all that you can to keep in contact with whoever you became close to: your host family, university professors, study abroad program directors, and fellow students, for instance.

Finally, remember that studying abroad is a very unique experience and upon return you have an incredible opportunity to promote your experience in your future endeavors – job interviews, and graduate program applications, and in all else that you do.

If you would like to read about my adventures in Paris check out my personal blog at:

“Roaming Les Rues Parisiennes”

Blog Profile

Sarah Dickshinski
Anthropology Major
French Major
Middle Eastern Studies Minor
Institut Catholique de Paris, Paris, France (Spring 2015)

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Dear Mom, I’m Homesick

So you pull the trigger and decide to study abroad! There are a lot of feelings swirling around in your head. You’re anxious to travel, stressed for packing and maybe a little unsure of yourself, but you bury those feelings and make it on the plane. It’s all a flurry when you arrive at your final destination. After all the dust settles around unpacking and possible orientations, you lie in bed that first night and a familiar feerheeling creeps in.

NO you can’t be homesick already! Don’t worry though, everyone feels it and it’s totally unavoidable. The price of gaining an amazing experience often involves leaving your comfort zone (i.e. your room/house/town/home country). It may feel like it will be an eternity until you’re back home but nothing lasts forever. Here are some tips for treating your case of homesickness:

Keep Busy

When you’re abroad, it’s important to focus on where you are. It’s easy to dwell on not being at home when you have nothing else to do. Take as many opportunities as possible to experience the country and culture you are living in. Go on day trip outings and visit historical sites on the weekends. Get out of your comfort zone and do something you’ve never thought to do before (i.e. join the university mountaineering club which as you can see to the right, I definitely did not regret). You may never get the chance again. Plan an exciting trip and give yourself something to look forward to. The planning and execution is a great distraction and even better learning experience. You probably won’t be thinking of home when you’re looking at the Eiffel tower or the Colosseum. Live in the moment and don’t waste a chance to experience something new.

coffeeGet Back in Your Comfort Zone

I know I just stressed the fact that you should try new things, but sometimes you just really need the comforts of home. Whenever I was feeling homesick, I found that it helped if I did something that would put me at ease. My favorite thing to do in Cork, Ireland was to go to a coffee shop and just relax with a drink that reminded me of home. You always know what to expect at a coffee shop and in a new country where you’re not sure of a lot of things, I knew buying a coffee would be low stress. There was even a Starbucks if I was feeling really homesick. But it could be as simple as watching your favorite movie on your computer or listening to a familiar song. It’s okay to give in every once in a while.

facetimeKeep In Contact

You may start feeling lonesome when you’re abroad. There are a lot of new faces and people to meet but you can still feel alone. Give someone a call! You may have originally been excited to get away from your old ball and chain (aka. Mom and Dad) but you’d be surprised how nice it will be to hear their voices or see their faces as they nag you from across the globe. You may not have texting, but I’ve found that Facebook messaging is just as convenient to share a quick thought with a friend back home.

 

Rhee McMillen 3 Rhee McMillen
rmcmille@umw.edu
Psychology Major
University College Cork, Ireland
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Dealing with the Language Barrier

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With my host mom in Meknes, Morocco.

When I chose to study abroad in Morocco, language was one of my primary considerations. After two and a half years of studying Arabic at UMW, I knew I wanted to go somewhere where I could continue studying it, and Morocco was my top choice. Though I knew communication would be a challenge, it was a challenge I was excited to meet and I could not wait to apply my intermediate level Arabic skills. Upon arriving in Morocco, I quickly learned that this was far more daunting than I had initially imagined. The Moroccan Arabic dialect is so different from classical Arabic that I could hardly understand a word, and the prospect of communicating with strangers seemed completely terrifying. Though I faced communication challenges throughout my abroad experience, I gradually learned ways to overcome my fears, make connections with Moroccan people, and feel more comfortable speaking in Arabic.

Here’s what I learned:

  1. Push yourself! Speaking in a foreign language can be scary—it is one thing to practice speaking to your classmates and instructor in America, but it is an entirely different ball game when you have to communicate important information to someone who does not speak any English. In my first few days in Morocco, I felt uncomfortable even trying to say “thank you” in Arabic. Needless to say, I very soon realized that I had no choice but to step out of my comfort zone. I talked to shopkeepers, taxi drivers, and restaurant waiters—and guess what? I didn’t die! In fact, some of my most meaningful interactions came when I pushed myself to speak to local people in their own language.
  2. Don’t be afraid to sound like a 4-year-old. The only way to really improve your speaking skills is to practice, and sounding like a little kid is part of the process. Though I had taken Arabic before, my vocabulary was extremely limited and I found that grammar was just way too much to keep up with when conversing. At first I felt stupid trying to talk with my host family and other Moroccans in Arabic, but my life in Morocco became so much easier when I stopped caring about making mistakes and just tried my best. Most of the time, they could understand me even when my pronunciation and grammar were way off. A lot of Moroccans were impressed that I knew any Arabic at all and were overall very supportive and patient when I talked to them.
  3. Prepare to be humbled. During my time abroad, I had many interactions that left me feeling frustrated and discouraged. I was once trying on clothes in a store when a friendly employee asked if everything fit okay. In a panic, I forgot what country I was in and replied, “Si.” Later, as I was checking out, the cashier was attempting to tell me the price of my purchase. Still feeling flustered, I had to have her repeat it several times, leading her to ask if I spoke any French. The previous employee quietly answered, saying in Arabic “no, she is Italian.” I resisted the desire to run frantically out the door and finished the payment. I had these kinds of embarrassing interactions quite frequently, and though they are quite humbling at the time, they make for good stories later.

Dealing with a language barrier is a huge challenge, but if you push yourself to keep trying, you will improve tremendously and gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.

Lydia Grossman 3Lydia Grossman
lgrossma@umw.edu
International Affairs Major
Environmental Sustainability Minor
IES Rabat, Morocco

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Making the Most

fullsizerender-1Ask anyone who has studied abroad, and they will tell you it was the best experience of their life. Ask me about my study abroad experience, and I won’t say any different. I was able to study in Cork, Ireland with three of my closest friends, and I was determined from the start to make it a once in a lifetime opportunity. Sometimes it’s not as easy to make expectations a reality. However, I have some tips that I believe helped to shape my study abroad experience into what it was for me (which was phenomenal).

  • Outline some goals. A week before my journey to Ireland was to start, I sat down and was thinking really hard about the upcoming semester. I was getting a bit overwhelmed by it all, because I was literally going to pack up my life into one giant suitcase. To calm my nerves and narrow my focus, I decided to jot down some major goals I had for the semester. I was able to look back and remind myself what exactly I wanted to get out of my trip. I even wrote down some general expectations. This kept my excitement up and helped to soothe some anxiety as well.
  • fullsizerender-2Keep a journal. I’ve always been the type to enjoy writing things down. Even if you aren’t, I believe keeping a journal can help to reflect on some awesome memories, and help to remember them more vividly in the future. My journal turned into a compilation of a part of my life, so I am extremely happy I kept up with it. Don’t get me wrong though, my journal wasn’t just for the good times. That’s just another reason why it was so helpful though. It allowed me to be my personal therapist, gush about this or that awesome place I got to visit, and now acts as a tangible memory of my study abroad experience.
  • Push yourself. I made a personal promise to myself which went something like, “Katelyn, you will not hold yourself back this semester.” I stuck to that. I ventured past my comfort zone. I learned to travel on public transportation like a pro. I went without cellphone service for 90% of my time abroad. I went without sleep. I have now been on too many flights to count (I still get Ryanair emails).  I even traveled from Paris to London by myself – believe me that is something I never thought I would muster up the courage to do. By doing all of this, I had a well rounded experience. I don’t regret a thing because, I learned a lot about myself and grew so much as a person.img_4544
  • Make the most of your time. Learning to balance academics, exploring my new home, and traveling was difficult and overwhelming at first. It was easy to forget that I was in Ireland for scholarly purposes. However, I realized early on that my study abroad experience was an opportunity to learn about more than what could be offered in a classroom. I took my free time in Ireland to learn about a different culture, a different way of life. I saw different forms of architecture. I met new people. I learned about different traditions. I got hip to new lingo. And I balanced all of this with my school work. On top of all of that, I traveled to 5 other countries as well.  It dawned on me that my experience as a whole, not just academics, was why I was studying in a different country.

No one’s experience will be the same, and that’s the beauty of it. You have the power to tailor your experience! You just have to make yourself available to let it happen.

Katelyn Santrock 1

Katelyn Santrock
ksantroc@umw.edu
Psychology Major
University College Cork, Ireland

 

 

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Learning How to Travel Well With Others

Tips and tricks for when you are traveling in a group.  img_2729-1International travel is one of those things that can make or break friendships. I chose to study abroad in Cork, Ireland with three of my closest college friends and roommates. While making this decision, I expressed my concern about going abroad with my best friends. I looked at going abroad for a semester as an opportunity to be completely independent from everything that I found comfort in. I was excited to find my own way in a foreign culture. Being with my best friends, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to work. Instead of looking at the upcoming experience in a negative light, I started to welcome the idea of sharing something so special with the people dearest to me. Together, we were able to explore Ireland as well as many places throughout Europe. My time spent abroad with my best friends was something that I might not ever be able to do again. As smoothly as our adventure did go, here are some things to keep in mind when traveling with others.

Here are my best Tips12512741_10208852272641370_6295288887532647326_n & Tricks

  1. Eat and drink water! Whenever you start to feel grumpy after a long day of traveling or exploring a new city, be sure to have a meal and drink plenty of water. This is advice that my parents gave to me before I left and I found invaluable during my time abroad. Being hangry is a very real thing!
  2. Make sure that you have an idea of what everyone in your group wants to accomplish when you are in a new city. There are always people who would prefer to go with the flow and then others who live by a list of what they want to do and see. Try to come to some sort of compromise. Compile a list of activities that the whole group would like to do and then sort through what others are gung-ho about or what they could live without.
  3. Don’t be afraid to get away from the group! If there is something that you are dying to do and you feel comfortable going by yourself, then go do it. I was able to spend a few days in Italy by myself and I can’t express how wonderful of an experience it was.
  4. Find solace in each other when you start to feel homesick. Missing home is inevitable when an ocean separates you from your family and everything familiar to you. Having my friends was like having a home away from home. Every once in a while I needed to complain about Ireland just because it was different or talk about just how much I missed Panera. It is so nice to be able to share these feelings with people who you know are experiencing the same things.

img_7487Every now and then my friends and I look back at all the photos and videos we took and think “wow”. It’s crazy to think about how much we experienced together and how much we overcame. New languages, food, airports… so many airports! I am so thankful that we got to share an adventure and I know we will always look back on our semester as one of the best times of our lives. We’re known in the CIE office as the Cork girls, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Issy Perrin 2 Isabelle Perrin iperrin@umw.edu

Psychology Major Linguistics Minor

University College Cork, Ireland

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