There are moments in life where the statement “hindsight is 20/20” is painfully accurate. When studying abroad, you are away from your everyday assistance in the form of friends, family, professors, and mentors; so, it is important to minimize the panic or regret one may feel because of not having researched before the education abroad experience.
I wish I had studied up more on the traveling aspect. This would have helped with budgeting if I had known the price of tickets. Also, this goes along with how I researched one place that I wanted to visit over the weekend, but I had three weekends for a side trip. Thankfully, the summer school supervisors made sure all the international students were aware of where the train station was.
I should’ve studied the optional reading. The class was divided into four weeks, and the material was new every week. If I had read the books I would have followed the lectures better. Also, I would have had reading material on the plane flying over the Atlantic. Bottom line is that we study abroad to, guess what, STUDY. I suggest reading everything imaginable to make the most of an experience, especially if it includes history on the area you are visiting.
I wish I had budgeted. My study abroad experience was awarded to me, so I did not need to worry about living arrangements, tuition, or most meals. That is an ideal situation for an education abroad trip, and I will use that as my excuse for being lazy on saving my money while I was in my abroad country. However, I underestimated how much I would spend on extra food, drinks, travel, and souvenirs. This did not bode well for my bank account for a spell, and it is a pain to work more after having come back from being abroad
On that note, I wish I had known that traveling is an impulse buyer’s dream world and nightmare simultaneously. There are so many goodies to buy that you may never see again or won’t see for a long time, at least. One word to remember: RESIST. Resist the temptation. Buy a postcard for family and friends, or a cheap magnet. People will enjoy that you thought about them abroad, not that the gift was expensive or not. Also, try to buy things that will last, and not perishables. I bought like 30 pounds worth of chocolate in England, and I don’t regret the chocolate, but I could have used that money for a shirt or a book, or something of equal long-lasting value.
Therefore, my main advice is to budget and research the price of items in the country/countries you are visiting. Understand the exchange rate on currency, tipping, and whether it is cheaper to travel by train or car or plane. But also, do not stress spending over the amount of money you had set aside for the trip. The experience is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you should not worry about eating as much native cuisine as your stomach can handle or buying as many sundries as your bag will fit.
Abby King is a senior studying history and classics at the University of Kentucky. She studied abroad in Summer 2016 in England where she participated in the Durham University Summer Fulbright Institution and learned about ancient and medieval history and archaeology.