How to be Dora the Explorer

Jenna Hughes Headshot
Jenna Hughes
June 26, 2024
there are four people in this photo, it is taken from a 0.5 angle; in the background is a large sidewalk and various boats; the location is next to a large lake

Salut, mes amis! 


My name is Jenna and if you don’t remember, I am studying in Paris this summer.

While I absolutely ADORE Paris and my parisienne lifestyle, I also love exploring other places throughout Europe! The world is so big and has so much for me to see, so why not explore it now while I have the chance! Since coming to Paris, I have visited Belgium, Amsterdam and Switzerland, which doesn’t include the 5 other cities I have also visited in France other than Paris.

With some careful planning, you too can be a world traveler while studying abroad (regardless of your budget and level of comfortability). However, visiting another country (or even city in your host country) is no small task! It requires tons of planning and lots of research beforehand. Here are some traveling tips so you can explore the world as easily as Dora the Explorer (whether you are alone or in a group)!


Travel with your new friends! I was so so so lucky to have met some amazing people in my program that quickly became some of my closest friends and travel buddies. I traveled with them to the three other countries I visited and most of the other cities I visited in France. By having a group of people that I trusted traveling with me, I immediately felt safer (especially as a woman). Traveling in a group is a great way to figure out all the uncertainties of the new place together. For instance, one of you may have some information that the others didn’t know or even if you all are uncertain about something new, you can all brainstorm together. Traveling in a group also makes a lot of sense logistically. Not only will you be safer but some things will be cheaper like airbnb costs. AND you will make some great memories and really bond with your new friends. I made countless inside jokes and some unforgettable memories when traveling with my girlies. 

And if you decide to travel alone, I suggest waiting until a couple of weeks into your study abroad. There is nothing wrong with traveling alone but when I traveled alone for the first time, I had already navigated airbnb booking, train traveling and public transportation hopping with my friends. So when it came time for me to travel alone, I had already gotten some experience and was able to navigate new things easier on my own while also staying calm and being safe.

Look at all your options before booking a trip: There is a whole world to explore and you can not possibly explore it all at once! Before deciding exactly where to go, it is good to look and see what is out there. There might be something out there that you have never even heard of that will be a lot of fun. For example, I really wanted to visit a coastal city but going somewhere in the south of France was a bit pricey for me. After some research, I found the city of Le Havre in the north of France that was not only by the ocean, but was also cheaper and had lots of things to do! I ended up going to Le Havre and a nearby city called Étretat and the views were STUNNING! And to think, I would have never known this city existed if I hadn’t looked at the options out there. 

Do your research: Ugh, this is the worst one but also the most important, so listen up! I know you already research enough for your classes, but this is a different and much more fun kind of research. 

When going to a new place, it is important that you know information before arriving. Knowing this information will keep you safe and also make your trip more enjoyable. Before going anywhere new, I always researched public transportation options, things to do and unsafe places in the area.

Looking at your options is also really important because there are tons of different ways to travel for tons of different types of people. You need to think about the transportation (bus, train or airplane) and the place you are staying (hotels, airbnbs and others). Each of these options have pros and cons that work for different kinds of people and it is important to know which option works best for you. For example, the buses tend to be cheaper than the train but they are longer and I think the bus stop is more confusing to navigate, so I often took the train; however, if you are on a budget, the bus could be a great option for you! It really depends on your budget and what makes you feel more comfortable, so don’t be afraid to look and see what is out there!

Notify people of where you are going: While abroad, it can be easy to forget to notify people where you are going; however, I think this is a very important step that you can not miss! When going somewhere that is outside of your city you are studying, it is always good to notify IES of your plans to travel just in case you have some problems. I know for me, my friends and I always filled out the trip tracker with IES before we went anywhere. And for me personally, I always notified my family back home of where I was going. It seems silly being that they are in another country; however, they were the people that I texted with the most and therefore, they would likely be the first ones to notice if something seemed off. Always tell at least ONE person where you are going just to be sure you stay safe!

Get comfortable being uncomfortable: I have said it once and I will say it again. Studying abroad comes with a bunch of new things and it will be uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean it is bad, that just means it is an opportunity to learn something new, so just roll with the punches :) 


So in summary, traveling the world can be fun but it is important to do some research ahead of time! Doing so will make your trip much more enjoyable and relaxing! Good luck explorers!

Bisous, XOXO

a cityscape is visible; there are various large buildings that look like skyscrapers visible with a blue sky and multiple clouds


Brussels Belgium


there is a purple bike with a basket of sunflowers that is leaning against a gate; the canals and buildings are visible in the background


Amsterdam, Netherlands


on the left side is a view of a large lake; on the right side is a bridge with various flags hanging over the side; the mountains of Switzerland are visible in the background


Geneva, Switzerland


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Jenna Hughes Headshot

Jenna Hughes

My name is Jenna Hughes and I am student at Miami University in Ohio. I have dreamt of going to France since I was 13, so I am excited to go this summer! My favorite things are reading French books, getting coffee with friends and family and my dog.

2024 Summer 1
Home University:
Miami University
Francophone Studies
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