Erika Ose is a student at Middle Tennessee State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Brussels, Belgium.
As you might have guessed, studying abroad in Europe gives you the best opportunity possible to visit other countries on weekend trips. Because of the advanced transportation network that exists throughout Europe, getting from one country to another can be accomplished in just a few short hours. Despite this, though, the usual pitfalls can befall even the most accomplished traveler. Here are four tips that I have found useful while embarking upon my own weekend jaunts.
Whether in app form or on the actual website, SkyScanner has saved my wallet a world of hurt. It scans all different airlines and finds you the best combination of flights to save you the most money and get you to your destination within the optimal time.
2. Enjoy the Local Food
Open your mind and enjoy the local cuisine of wherever you might visit. When I visited Venice with friends, we asked our gondolier for a restaurant recommendation, and I ordered something in Italian that I couldn’t understand. When it arrived, it turned out to be a fish plate with black octopus ink sauce. When I took a bite, though, it was absolutely delicious. Don’t let your preconceived ideas influence your decisions–people have been eating and enjoying these local foods for hundreds of years, so you should give it a try too!
3. Don’t Feel Pressured
Don’t feel pressured to see every sight within a city in one weekend. When we visited Amsterdam, I went to the Van Gogh Museum and wandered around Old Town for hours, but never made it to the Anne Frank House or the Rijksmuseum. I know that I will someday return to that amazing city, but rather than having a memory of how stressed I was by trying to fit everything into one weekend, instead I spent a very nice weekend in a new city and simply learned about the overall atmosphere of Amsterdam.
4. Souvenirs Are Nice, But Ultimately Unnecessary
Unless you’re buying souvenirs for family or friends, souvenirs are rather superfluous. If you buy souvenirs from every place you visit, you will end up having an [expensive] extra suitcase or two to ship home. Rather, let your pictures and your memories be your main souvenirs. If you find something very special, then get it, but be very selective. I found a quote that is very applicable in this instance: “Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show” –and that is truly a sentiment that I can use to describe my study abroad experience.
Want to hear more about traveling abroad? Check out “Why You Should Travel (but not too much!) During Your Semester Abroad”
I thought the infamous Viv Savage (Spinal Tap) quote best applies: “Have a good time, ALL the time!”