Many of you who are studying abroad for fall term are already at your respective universities, and those of you who are planning to go abroad next semester are narrowing down your choices and submitting your applications. It’s taken a lot of work to get where you are, and so it’s getting time (or the time is already here) to plan what you’re doing when you’re there. Of course, the main reason for studying abroad is to study, but what better way to learn about the culture of the country you are studying in than going out and experiencing it? Take your free weekends to sight-see around your city or surrounding areas, and long weekends and breaks are a perfect time to grab a couple of friends and explore the country!
Here’s some tips for traveling around during your study abroad experience:
- First and most importantly, use common sense and do your research. Before you go on that weekend trip, you’ve got figure out how you’re going to get there (bus, plane, train, the choice is yours), and if it’s over night, where you’re staying. Read reviews, find out what part of the city your prospective lodging is and how to get there, among other important details. Does the rate run per person or per room? Is there Wi-Fi? Air B&B and hostels were the kinds of places that I and many other international students used while traveling throughout Japan, and while we never had a single problem with our rooms, do make sure to read ratings and research to make sure you’re paying to stay in a safe and reliable environment!
- Ask the locals! Make friends from the country you’re living in and ask them to show you around. They’ll more or less know the ends and outs of the city and can point you to the best places to go.
- There’s an app for that—trust me. Armed with apps like Google Maps and Citymapper, you can go anywhere. Make sure to check for apps specific to your country, and you’ll more than likely be able to find some great traveling information. For instance, there are apps that are dedicated to help map and navigate the Japan Rail lines throughout Tokyo and the rest of the country, providing times and the best routes to get to your destination. It’s definitely worth the look!
- Check and see if there are student/ traveler discounts, you might be surprised at what you can find! In my experience, airlines offered student discounts on plane tickets, even during major holiday rushes. For anyone staying in Japan under a specified amount of time, the Japan Railways even offered a steeply discounted JR Pass that would allow you to do a lot of traveling on a shorter amount of time and is only offered to international travelers.
Want more advice on traveling abroad? Education Abroad is hosting an information session on traveling while abroad on October 13th at 5:30 pm in The 90, room 215. Come for more tips and tricks about traveling while abroad!
Jillian is a senior at the University of Kentucky majoring in International Studies, focusing on the culture and arts of Asia. In the fall of 2015 she studied abroad at Akita International University in Akita, Japan.