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Dream, Breathe, Go: Traveling While Studying Abroad

April 12, 2017

One of the greatest things about studying abroad is all of the travel that comes with it. Once you get settled into your new country, you start thinking about all the places that you can go, and look at booking trips for your weekends.

Traveling can be very exciting. I live in Milan, a very central location, making it easy to get to many different countries and cities. When I first arrived in Milan, I thought that I had so much time to travel and plan as the semester went along, but I was wrong. Once I started planning trips with friends, I realized that I only had about three completely free weekends in Milan, which seemed to make my time here go as fast as the speed of light.

If you’re like me and are planning to see as much as you can, here’s a few things to keep in mind.

  1. It’s okay to say no to a trip your friends are going on.
  2. Watch your bank account. Don’t spend more than you have to. Hostels might not be your thing, but if you’re traveling, you’re only going to be sleeping there. Just make sure they have lockers, and book a cheap but safe place to stay.
  3. Make sure you leave time to explore the city that you’re studying in. You don’t want to return home and not be able to say anything interesting about your host city.

While a lot of my trips are planned with friends, I have others that are just for me. Solo travel might seem scary, especially if it’s been drilled in your head that it’s not safe, and that something bad will inevitably happen. While the thought has scared me sometimes, it hasn’t stopped me. The best thing to do when solo traveling is to be smart and cautious.

I took a trip to Florence with some friends a few weeks ago. By the time that we got to our AirBnB, it was pretty late. I thought about going out by myself, but then realized that it might not be smart to be out late at night by myself, exploring a city that I had never been to. The next day, everyone wanted to relax and go to dinner before getting back on the bus. I would rather spend my time walking around the city some more and grab something to eat on the bus. So I looked up all the bus routes I would need, and then some. I had a plan, with many backups just in case. I walked down the streets rolling a suitcase with my backpack on. I sat on the Ponte Vecchio listening to someone sing, went to a wine and cheese tasting on the river, found a cute outdoor market, got to the bus station, picked up some snacks and boarded. I wouldn’t change a single thing because it was my favorite part of the trip. I was happy and peaceful, and couldn’t believe that I was really there.

There are going to be times when you want to do something different than your friends. Don’t be afraid to say no, and go do your thing. I promise that you won’t regret it. And, when it’s all done and you’re on that bus, train or plane going back to your host city, you won’t believe that you were able to navigate a new place on your own and you’ll feel so proud of yourself.

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