Weekend Getaways While Studying Abroad
Living abroad offers the opportunity to explore a part of the world you would have never had the opportunity to otherwise explore - and I'm not just talking about your host country, but all the countries surrounding it, too.
Seeing and living the complexities of life that exist outside of Barcelona really expanded my worldview and shook me in an electrifying and adrenaline-pumping way. It's a must-do for any study abroad student, and by following a few simple guidelines, it doesn't even have to be a hassle.
o Budget your trips: Before you leave your home country, budget your money to allocate some funds towards international travel. Plan your traveling around your budget and consider if you would rather go o n more trips that cost less, or go on a few big, expensive trips.
o Find travel buddies: Not only is it safer to travel with others, but it can also make planning so much easier. Each person can be responsible for researching different parts of the trip, and collaboratively you will all create a whirlwind of an adventure.
o Use cheap airlines: European airlines are awesome because international travel is usually so much cheaper than it is in the states. Some airlines that always came in handy for me: Ryanair, easyJet and Aer Lingus. But always be cautious: these airlines will "trick" you with cheaply listed flights whose taxes are much more expensive (my flight to Ireland was listed as $0, but ended up costing around $80).
Cheap airlines also tend to not fly into major cities, meaning you could be miles and miles away from the place you actually wanted to visit. Leading me to my next point..
o Investigate public transit: If you land in a city outside of your destination, research how you can get to the area of attraction before you leave so you are not discombobulated at the airport (you can usually find this information on an airport's website). Also determine whether you'll need to buy a subway card, bus passes, or if the city is walkable. Cab drivers also have notoriously distinct behaviors depending from city to city, so be sure to research what to expect from taxis.
o Research the city's attractions: Don't go to a city with no notion of what it has to offer. Websites like LonelyPlanet.com or VirtualTourist.com supply suggestions for fun bars, great restaurants, unique holiday opportunities, etc. Tips from other students in your study abroad program who recently traveled to your place of interest are also usually up-to-date and spot on.
o Plan time for no plans: While it's important to plan ahead, sometimes the most fun you have is when you don't plan at all. Instead of only visiting places recommended by tourist websites, plan some time to just explore without restraint. What you find will almost always surprise you.
Prague, Seville, San Sebastian, London, Paris, Athlone.. these are the places that I remember sentimentally and fleetingly. I only got glimpses into their cores, but my European adventure would have been a little less complete without the memories I derived from my beautiful little getaways.