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The ABCs of Studying Abroad in Europe

by Lily Feenan
Venice, Italy

Apologize to your bank account. Aside from the occasional weekend trip, you may need to spend money on things such as water and public bathrooms.

Bring a small carry on or duffle bag to take on weekend trips. You will not want to lug around your big suitcase everywhere.

Camera “eats” first. You may forget everything in a few years, but the pictures of food and your travels will help you remember all your favorite things and places.

Do not go over 50 pounds for your luggage. Airlines charge you up to €100 for an overweight or extra bag.

Everything will seem different. Take advantage of the culture shock and try new foods.

Forget about American dollars. There are various currencies across Europe such as euros, francs, and pounds.

Guard valuables like your phone and wallet when out. Pickpockets can be very tricky.

Have a friend or two with you if you go out at night. This is most important when it gets late.

It’s okay to miss home. Homesickness is a common thing that students experience, but it’s also completely normal never to be homesick.

Journey to other countries on the weekends and/or spring break. Although they are so close in location, their customs and culture can be very different.

Know your limits. Especially when traveling to a new place.

Learning in class is important. Traveling is fun, but you still need to pass your classes either for your major or academic credit.

Message your family and friends back in the States. They probably miss you and want to hear all about your adventures.

Nutella will become a staple food in your new European diet. It is everywhere.

Outlets are different in Europe. Make sure you bring power converters with you.

People you study abroad with will be your friends for a long time, so stay in touch. That way you can reminisce over all the laughs you had or even visit each other at school.

Quiz yourself with a new word or phrase everyday. Even in English speaking countries there are unusual little phrases used that you do not hear in the States.

Recognize the different driving habits. Some countries drive on the opposite side of the road while others see stop signs as mere friendly suggestions.

Souvenirs are a must have. Do you really need another t-shirt or postcard? Of course!

Try setting your phone to a foreign language and like foreign newspaper pages on Facebook. Both of these methods allow you to keep using a foreign language in your daily use, even after you return home to the States.

Use public transportation to learn the lay of the land while traveling.

Visa expirations dates are all different. However, if they expire a bit after your program ends, do some more traveling before you return home.

Wear appropriate clothing when visiting churches. You will be kicked out.

Xenoglossophobia [the fear of foreign languages] is a thing, but try to avoid it. Locals tend to appreciate when you learn their language.

You can never eat too much gelato. Enough said.

Zigzag around your city or town and seek out all the popular local spots.

This post was contributed by Lily Feenan, who spent a semester studying abroad with AIFS in Florence, Italy.

The ABCs of Studying Abroad in Europe | AIFS Study Abroad

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