Studying abroad was undoubtedly the best decision of my college career. There are so many options to consider when you’re choosing a city to spend your semester in. If you have a lot of freedom in where you can study, you might find yourself choosing between Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. I always knew I wanted to study in Europe because I wanted to have the chance to travel easily and cross some stops off my European bucket list, and I wanted to live in a big city for the first time in my life, so I chose Paris, France. While my tips for a fun semester abroad are specific to a European semester abroad, I’m sure people who studied in other continents would have similar recommendations. Your semester abroad can be the best time in your life if you stay open to new experiences and flexible with your travel plans!
Say yes to new experiences and get out into the city (or town or village or wherever you are). It might seem easy to spend an afternoon watching Netflix in your room like you would when you’re at home, but try your best to get out and make the most of your time in this new place! Give yourself breaks when you need them, but try not to let yourself fall into the same homebody patterns that you have when you’re at home. Even if that means you just get out and walk around your neighborhood one day, soak up every bit of the experience you can!
Be a tourist and a local. Visit the major tourist sights and take your Instagram-worthy pictures, but make sure to explore the quieter streets and less visited attractions! Look up street market times, get your groceries from local vendors, make a local friend to go out with, and save US chain restaurants for when you’re feeling especially homesick.
Find a great travel group. Finding good, flexible travel buddies is SO important if you plan on traveling a lot. I loved traveling with a small group of friends because you always have people to explore new cities with and go out at night with! Your travel group can really affect how you experience a city, so it’s really important to make sure you all have (somewhat) similar interests, priorities, and energy levels! My friends and I all enjoyed shopping, seeing major sights, and going out at night, so we were happy staying out late and wake up a little later to tour a city!