If you’re like me, you like to make the most out of any situation or experience. It was with this mindset that I made the decision to visit other countries during the time that I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain. With other European countries being so accessible from Spain, I saw the opportunity to experience other cultures on top of the one that I was immersed in, at least for a few days here and there. No matter where you experience Education Abroad, visiting other countries is a possibility, and I am here to give you some tips on how to successfully and efficiently do so.
- Do your research. Depending on what country you are studying/interning/researching/teaching/serving in, you will have a limited number of options of other places to visit while abroad. Pull up a map, find your country, and see what other places you would be interested in learning about that are also close by.
- Plan Ahead. This is probably the most important nugget of advice that I can give you. If possible, look at the schedule for your program or the calendar for the university at which you will be studying to see what weeks or weekends you will have free. As it gets closer to the time you want to go somewhere other than where you are situated, plane, train, boat, or whatever kind of tickets you will need to purchase will get more and more expensive. Start early to spend as little money as possible!
- Make smart decisions about lodging. Don’t blow big bucks on fancy hotels! Consider staying in a hostel or renting out someone’s apartment or home. Airbnb is a great and reliable resource for finding inexpensive places to rent while abroad.
- Take advantage of time before and after your program. Some people may have a completely full program schedule, or they just want to savor the time that they have in their country of temporary residence. If you’re in this boat, you can also find a way to visit other locations! Consider leaving the U.S. before your program starts or staying abroad after your program ends to experience as many places as you want to visit.
For the one free weekend of my 5-week program with ISA (a partner organization), two of my friends and I decided to take a short visit to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. We planned ahead, booked relatively cheap flights, and rented out the 3rd floor of a Dutch family’s house for our stay through Airbnb. The mom picked us up from the airport, fed us, and helped us get around for the weekend. It was an amazing experience, and I was able to learn so much about Dutch culture.
Photos courtesy of Adam Kiser.
Adam Kiser is a sophomore at the University of Kentucky studying Animal Science. Adam participated in the ISA Valencia program in summer 2015.