One of the greatest benefits of studying abroad is the opportunity to travel outside of your host country. I took this into account when choosing my study abroad program and it was a factor when choosing London specifically. London is a hub with several major airports and train stations, making it easy to travel pretty much anywhere in Europe. Last weekend, myself and a group of nine other students embarked on our first weekend trip to Paris. The weekend was amazing, we got to see so many monuments and enjoy all the crepes and croissants that Paris had to offer. It also taught me tips that I will be keeping in mind when traveling around Europe in the future.
1. It’s More Expensive Than You Think
Luckily, we were able to find decently affordable flights and a cheap Airbnb but we didn’t take into account transportation to and from the airport and in Paris itself. We took the Gatwick Express to Gatwick Airport for £11, then 16€ on an Uber to our Airbnb and finally a 20€ Rail Pass to use the transportation in Paris. My advice would be to set aside £50 for transport when budgeting your weekend trips!
2. Don’t Let Anyone Hold You Back
You only have so many days to enjoy a new city before heading back reality, so definitely try to make the most of it. We were traveling with a big group and the odds of us all being ready to head into the city at the same time were slim, so some of us left the house earlier than others so we could check off as much as we could on our Parisian bucket list. Our friends were totally understanding if the group wanted to separate; we just always made plans to meet back up later.
3. Try to Cook a Meal at Home!
Our first night in Paris we stopped in a local market to get supplies for a quick dinner. We made pasta and salad at home which was a fun bonding activity which allowed us to save a little cash. We knew we wanted to go out to a nice dinner the following night, so cooking at home allowed us to splurge a little later in the weekend.
4. Treat Everything Like It is the Last Time You’ll See It
Leave no place left unseen! Some people don’t get the opportunity to travel to amazing cities like London or Paris in their lifetime and if you do get the opportunity, who knows if you’ll ever be back! Of course, take a ton of photos for Instagram to give your friends at home major FOMO, but also take a second to appreciate the moment and the company you’re with.
5. Set Reasonable Expectations
Especially during your first weekend away, things are bound to go wrong. One of the kids in our group forgot his passport, our Airbnb was super far from the city, we went the wrong way on the metro and got a little lost, but all of these things are apart of the experience. After all, you didn’t go abroad to stay in your comfort zone. Just keep an open mind and you’re sure to have an amazing weekend! Cheers and happy traveling!
Marissa is a senior from CSU Long Beach studying on a CFL AIFS program in London this Spring. She loves fashion, music, lifestyle writing, pretty much everything pop culture. Be sure to check back for more of her blogs!