Welcome to my IES Abroad Blog! For those of you reading this that don’t know me already, I’m Megan, and I’m a junior at University of Wisconsin-Madison, who in a few short days will be leaving the freezing Wisconsin countryside for the cobblestone streets of Paris, France. I’m a finance and international business double major with a French certificate (aka a minor at every other university in America) and I love making art, watching movies, traveling, and eating ice cream. I’m so excited for my semester in France, and I’ll keep you all updated about everything I’m up to right here on this blog! But before I talk about Paris, lets talk about my time leading up to this study abroad.
When I thought about my upcoming study abroad to Paris at the beginning of winter break, I knew I wanted to get the most out of my time off. Four months is a long time to be away from home, so my motto for my three weeks off was to stock up-- on people, on places, on experiences, and especially on things I'll need to take to France.
First, I shared some lovely times with some lovely people. I saw the latest Star Wars movie with my little brother, went shopping with my mom, and went out to a nice dinner with my whole family. I also made a point to hang out with my little cousins (ages 6 and 8) that I used to babysit. Being in college across the state, I don’t get to see them very often, but I missed coloring and dancing and watching Disney movies with them. I also hung out with my friends several times, going to restaurants or each other’s houses before we go our separate ways.
Next, I got my fill of some classic Wisconsin locales. I indulged and went to Culver’s for some of my favorite frozen custard (yum!) and other local restaurants to get my fill of good ol’ Wisconsin cuisine. I also went walking in the miles of woods in my backyard, a very peaceful and beautiful experience that I can’t enjoy while I’m away at school. It also reminds me that even though I vehemently declare to hate winter, it isn’t all bad, all the time.
Stocking up on experiences to me means producing as much art as I can in the time that I’m given. For the most part, that meant catching up and working up on my bullet journal, which, if you should choose to follow this blog, you will definitely see more of in the future. My bullet journal is a cross between a planner and a scrapbook; I plan out my week with bullet-pointed tasks (hence the name) but also fill it with ticket stubs, pictures, and other art. You can see the beginnings of my 2018 bullet journal, or bujo as it is more commonly known, below.
Finally, I stocked up on packing essentials for four months abroad. Besides the usual clothing, electronics, and toiletries, here are my recommendations for items to pack that you might not come to mind right away.
- Medications: Get all the medication you need in advance in sealed containers. That way, you don’t have to risk sending them through the mail or getting them seized in customs
- Power adapter: In Europe, wall plugs look different and they have a different voltage. All of the electronics I had were dual voltage, so I just needed an adapter so I can plug them into the wall. I got two just to be safe, and you can get them any Target or Wal-Mart type store.
- Luggage scale: This is especially important if you want to take weekend jaunts to other countries. There’s a weight-limit for carry-ons, so this handy dandy scale ensures you won’t have to pay exorbitant fees for an over-packed bag.
- Copies of Important Documents: Always prepare for the worst. Have copies of your passport, visa, and the address of your final destination with you at all times while flying.
Everyone always talks getting the most out of your time abroad, which is of course important, but this winter break I realized the importance of making the most out of your time at home, especially before a study abroad. So my advice to any future study abroad students is to stock up while you can! Adventure is around the corner, but also enjoy the small pleasures of home life before you leave.
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<p>I was born in Melbourne, Australia and moved to the United States eight months later, and I've loved to travel every since. My favorite way to document my travels is through something called a bullet journal, which is like a combination of an agenda, a journal, and a scrapbook.</p>