Bonjour! This time I’m saying hello in French because I wanna talk about traveling outside of your study abroad country. I can only really speak to the students studying in Europe since that’s where I’ve been, but hopefully this is a lot of you because Europe is beautifullll. A lot of my friends that are also here studying abroad have been able to travel a lot more than I have but even for students that don’t have what seems like unlimited funds it’s super easy to travel internationally within the EU.
First thing to figure out usually when it comes to travel is the cost of it all before you can really commit to planning everything out. Being in Spain, I’m farther away from Eastern European countries, but honestly there’s so much culture in the western countries so it was not a problem for me. Personally, I had never even been to Europe before studying abroad so the places I really wanted to visit were pretty basic (France, Italy). Both France and Italy are obviously pretty close to Spain, so the cost of travel is surprisingly affordable! Of course, it depends which city you go to. For example, I went to Paris—I know, basic again—and that one was more expensive than my flight to Naples, since Naples isn’t as much of a tourist hub.
Next, comes the logistics of travel like where to stay and what to do. There are several options here, but a very popular one that students have used are hostels. Hostels are usually the cheapest, and there are different types depending on the experience you’re looking for. Some are more quiet and focus on having a calm, relaxing environment, and some have bars in them or mini clubs for people who are looking for that kinda scene. Personally, I prefer the quiet ones because traveling is exhausting and usually I just want a relaxing place to crash, but I think it’s cool that different options are out there! Also, other options are renting an Airbnb or a hotel room, which I feel like everyone is more familiar with. I think for people traveling in bigger groups or for those who want a more private space Airbnb is usually a really good option—not too expensive and you get your own space. Hotels are nice but usually more expensive as y’all probably already know.
Now to the fun part, activities and exploring! What I usually do is to just search on Google, or Bing if you’re one of those people, things to do in whatever city you’re going to. As you browse through different websites there will be certain places or activities that come up again and again, and those are the ones I tend to pay attention to. Also, if you happen to know someone who has either been to the place you’re going or is from there, definitely ask them. Nothing like hearing it from someone who has visited or lived there, especially if it’s someone you know because they know what kinda things you’d be interested in. For food, pretty much the same process works. In this case you’ll usually have reviews, though, which are super helpful. Honestly, the more reviews the better, so if there’s a place with 5 stars and only ten reviews I’d rather go to a place with 4.5 stars and a thousand reviews.
Something I should mention because it’s different from pre-COVID times, is the experience of the actual flight or train or transportation in general. While it is still easier to travel within the EU, there’s still a lot more restrictions than usual, and every country has their own way to do things. It’s not too big of a deal but it is worth mentioning because it’s necessary to check and double check the requirements for each trip you go on. Usually they require some kind of health form and proof of either vaccination or negative COVID test.
Don’t let all these new requirements scare you though. It’s seriously such a privilege to get to see all these amazing places and it’s SO worth the little hassle of filling out a health form or whatever the country requires. Although I’m biased, I think studying in Europe is the best place to be because you have so many amazing countries to see around you so if you’re undecided then Europe is the way! Also, in Europe most people speak or at least understand English which makes a huge difference if English is your only language. Hope this was somewhat helpful if you were curious about what travel has been like during the pandemic. If not, then I hope you at least don’t feel like you wasted however long it took you to read this, bye for now! (:
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<p>Hi, I’m Melanie! I’m a senior at Carnegie Mellon University, majoring in Physics. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Physics. While I love STEM, I also love the arts! I’m part of an a cappella group, I’m in my school’s non-major orchestra as a violinist, I like to draw and paint, and I’ve dabbled in some dance too. It’s important for me to keep a balance between all my interests, which also include working out (at the gym only - I am NOT athletic, unfortunately) and outdoor activities that don’t involve swimming since that’s something I can’t do. I know, shame. I’m really looking forward to exploring all my hobbies and interests in the context of a new culture. I am fluent in Spanish since I was raised in Mexico so Spain will be full of possibilities!</p>