Last spring, I spent around five months living in Prague, Czech Republic and traveling around Europe by plane, train, and bus. It was my first time to Europe, so I packed in just about everything you could imagine. Here you can find some of my favorite experiences along with some things I wish I knew sooner on to enhance your own experience abroad!
before you go..
Months in advance, you should have filled out your student visa forms and sent in your passport. Make sure that you are prepared with weather-appropriate clothes (or bring extra money to purchase when you arrive), lots of camera film, a journal, and the local currency. Only exchange a bit to get you through the first few days - it's always better to change money in the country you're visiting at an exchange store in town.
On packing, I would definitely advise packing light. You will collect so many unexpected clothes, gifts, and items to bring back with you so don't overpack! I fit all my things for 5 months in a single suitcase.
I began my journey all on my own and I encourage you to do the same! Going abroad by myself encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, meet new people, and experience something I might only get to do once in my life. Even if you are traveling with friends, try to spend some time wandering around alone or attending events with new faces.
I know for many, a certain social anxiety comes with this endeavor. But trust me, you will survive!!! The friends I made abroad will be some of my best friends for life, guaranteed. We planned travels together, cooked dinner, went to concerts, ate unhealthy amounts of Czech food, watched sunrises, and are now awaiting the next time we'll get to visit one another! In addition to that, my friends from home and school were also able to meet up on many occasions, so I was able to hang with them and cure that sweet spot of homesickness. So be spontaneous, get a little uncomfortable, and take that leap to ride solo!
Even I fell behind in journaling, blogging and taking pictures. To some extent, you want to just soak in every moment and not get distracted by media. Strike a good balance between the two by acknowledging when to get the shot versus when to simply enjoy it :)
Where to next?
Amongst handfuls of countries, cities, and places to go, how do you choose?! How I prioritized my travels depended on cost effectiveness and opportunity. Being in Central Europe lended the chance to visit much smaller countries than if I would have flown in straight from the states - Croatia, Montenegro, and Switzerland to name a few. I saved bigger cities like London and Paris for another trip but was still able to hit my favorites like Barcelona and Berlin! Check out The Weekender below for a look into my travels!