In my preparations for coming abroad, I made list upon list of clothing items, toiletries, technology, and other things I might need while in Rome. I stressed over everything I would need and wouldn’t need, trying to minimize what I was bringing while still packing enough. While I’m grateful I spent so much time focused on prepping my packing, there are a few things I wish I would’ve researched prior to leaving.
- Countries/Cities to Visit
- This semester I’ve had every Friday off as part of the program, which has been so nice for traveling around Europe. But, I realized when I got here and started chatting with people around me, that I hadn’t planned any trips around Italy or other countries. So, I made a spreadsheet in the first few weeks and after asking my professors who are born and raised in Italy what are the best places to hit, must see monuments, churches, and sites around Italy, I had a solid list which helped inform my trips and make them more fulfilling. Even simply looking up “things to do in X city” can bring thousands of reviews, blog posts, videos, and historical background on any place you can think of. Doing ample research and prepping ahead of time is super helpful and will make it easier to track flight fares, accommodation prices, and activities.
- Airports and Air Fare
- Prior to arriving in your host country, do some research on the best ways to get to the airport from your living accommodation. It can be very expensive to uber or taxi out to an airport, especially for early morning cheaper flights. Luckily, Europe, in my experience, generally has really efficient public transportation methods that could bring costs down and be an even faster option for arrival at the airport. Knowing a few routes prior to your trip will be really helpful and save some stress day of.
- In regard to air fare, take your time finding flights, be careful on what dates you choose, and beware of unnecessary charges cheaper airlines might slip in if you don’t pay close enough attention. Try to book early if you can save money here and there as that extra cash will add up over time. Additionally, if you look early enough, you have more time to compare air fares over a few days and get the best price. There are also a myriad of websites that scan the internet for the cheapest options possible. Pro tip: sometimes these websites throw in a service fee, so instead of checking out on those websites, use the information they find for you to book through the airline instead. Then you can increase points on each flight, avoid unnecessary service fees, and in case something goes wrong with the flight like a cancellation, or you miss it, the airline can process refunds or a rebooking much more easily if you book directly through them.
- Watch local influencers!
- A quick TikTok or YouTube search will bring pages of people who live in your host country and can offer all kinds of videos to supplement your trip. Not only do they give plenty of restaurant recommendations, ideas for activities, and traditional foods you have to try, many give mini tours of various monuments, or a quick breakdown of the history you should know before. You can also find study abroad kids who have lived where you will be and can speak to their experience.
Wherever you decide to go for study abroad and beyond, it is always helpful to do more research than not enough. Prioritize the activities you want to do, have fun, and make the most out of every once-in-a-lifetime experience. I promise, you won’t regret it.
More Blogs From This Author
My name is Tatyana Masters and I'm from Washington D.C. I can often be found with a book to read and camera on hand, looking for a new adventure or stranger to meet. I go to school in New York City, so in my free time, I like to ride the subway to different areas of the city and interview interesting people I meet for stories!