Balancing School and Travel in Europe

Lilian Quiroz is a student at Texas Tech University, and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Berlin, Germany.

When I first arrived in Germany, I sought to travel as much possible. Germany is very central in Europe, so it made that possibility easier. However, I couldn’t forget I was there for university as well. I found balancing travel while studying in a foreign country to be very important, but it was not difficult for me since I had a plan.

I would try to finish almost everything before departing for my destination. Finishing homework ahead of my trip was not always possible. Going out to explore the city or hanging out with friends was always a temptation, which was okay to give into! However, that meant reducing time on Netflix or social media in order to make time for schoolwork. I also learned it was acceptable to say “no” to a night out for drinks without feeling guilty or like a party-pooper. I had more work to do than I had anticipated, so I had to find time elsewhere in my daily schedule.

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Using the public transport in Berlin is very helpful, but I discovered it took about 40 minutes on average to get to most places. To me, that meant 40 minutes of study time. For example, I made flashcards for vocab, and it was easy enough to take out and put up while on the go. Reading on the train was also something that was very possible and less conspicuous because other Germans were also reading books or the newspaper. Of course, I didn’t do this every time I rode the subway or bus, but I did try to do it on my way to and from school every morning.

Whatever I was unable to complete at home, I would take with me when I would travel. However, I tended to make sure those last assignments did not require I pack heavy materials in my backpack. I flew more often rather than taking a bus, so I had a bag size and weight limit. I made sure to drink coffee before boarding the plane or during the plane ride so I could get a mini studying session in or write an assignment for class. It was very important to utilize this time and be productive! Anyway, what else would I be doing? Oh right, that thing we all love: sleep.

I typically had more homework to do even after working during the travel journey. It was a burden having to work while I was in Athens or Prague, but it was not impossible. There was certainly time to make room for it. My body may have been tired from walking all day in foreign cities, but my brain had to push a little longer to complete that final assignment at the end of the day in the hostel. I suggest not stressing out too much about the work during these trips though. Remember, there is always more time on the flight back home!

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Eventually, I realized that it was possible to burn-out from traveling too much. I love traveling more than anything, so I never thought this would be possible. I would recommend spreading out your travels if you plan to do a lot of it. Your body needs a break from all the walking and lack of sleep. It will allow some time to do homework in advance for the next weekend when you go on the upcoming trip. Also, spend the weekend exploring the city you’re living in! I have a friend who traveled almost every weekend, and as the program is coming to an end she is just now sightseeing in Berlin. If you are insistent on traveling, trips with the bus to nearby towns or cities can be a nice compromise. You can relax the entire day (or take reading materials on the bus), and then complete any remaining homework during the rest of the weekend!

The world awaits…discover it.

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