For some of us, studying abroad in one city just isn’t enough. I loved my city, Barcelona, but I also wanted to travel to other places in my free time. My time abroad was about experiencing as many cultures as possible.
1. You’ll fall in love with the food.
If you’re traveling abroad in Europe, chances are you’ve tasted quite a few cities’ gelatos. If you have the opportunity to visit Rome, you must go on a food tour. The unique gelato flavors were a great treat to end the tour I had taken.
Another staple for European treats is Nutella. It’s in ice cream, croissants, bread, candy… you name it, they probably have it. By far the best hazelnut spread I had was on a crepe, along with melted white chocolate and almonds.
2. Hostels will become your best friend.
Six euros a night? Yes, please. Although not every hostel was as beautiful as this one in Marrakesh, Morocco, you really can’t beat their prices. If you want to travel smart and save your money, hostels are the way to go. Although having your own hotel room sounds more appealing, you’ll be too busy exploring the city to really care.
3. You might run into some familiar faces.
You’ll soon find out where the popular travel spots are for students abroad. Nice, France was on the top of my to-do list. Apparently, it was also on the list of some of my sorority sisters studying abroad. We were sitting several yards away from each other on the beach!
4. You’ll make some local friends.
Whether you meet new lifelong friends, or just some friendly people that want to join in your selfie, it’s great to meet some locals. The most important part of a city’s culture is the people that inhabit it.
5. You’ll get to experience local festivities.
Personally, I think the best festivals are the ones mostly celebrated by locals. In Valencia, Spain, Las Fallas is a unique tradition where the city creates giant wooden caricatures, and then sets them on fire.
In Nice, France, there is an annual carnival. At night, the light parade was absolutely breathtaking. From trapeze artists and endless flowers, to animatronic floats, it was spectacular. Just be careful for the kids spraying silly sting (learned that the hard way)!
6. You’ll learn to be independent.
While traveling, you may find yourself wanting to do something none of your friends want to do. Whether that be going to the mall, or even visiting another city, it’s great to do things on your own. You get to do what you want, when you want. Bonus: you learn a lot about yourself. Just keep in mind, there is safety in numbers.
7. You’ll already start your return plans on your ride home.
If you’re traveling on weekends like I did, chances are you won’t get a chance to do everything on your itinerary. The good thing about this is you now have a great reason to return later in life.
8. You might even find your future home.
For whatever reason, you may feel a connection to a city you’re visiting. Maybe a periodic visit will satisfy the longing to return, or maybe you could see yourself living there one day. For me, Amsterdam was that place. I could go on and on about why this place was so great. Having a combination of environmentally friendly transportation, delicious food, a small-town vibe, and the world’s friendliest locals, I could definitely see myself here one day.
Whether you want to travel every weekend abroad, or just indulge in one nice trip away, traveling can really add to your time abroad.
This post was contributed by Shannon Rooney, who studied abroad with AIFS in Barcelona, Spain.