Tag Archives: Abroad

Studying Abroad: “You Won’t Know ‘Till You Go”

Filed under: College Life, Education, Fun Ideas, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Bailey Buckingham BookRenter Blogger Biography

“You won’t know ‘till you go!” That’s the slogan my university uses to promote study abroad. In the months before my trip, I posted about the reasons you should study abroad, and what to pack. Now that I’m back, I’m going to share with you my experience studying abroad in Spain and encourage you to hopefully study abroad someday as well.

1. Culture

When you go on a trip with your friends or family, sometimes you don’t get a feel for the culture because you’re with your group doing your planned events. This trip, we worked hands on with employers/employees and even students that live in Spain. It was an incredible opportunity to learn firsthand the differences between our cultures, like their importance of siesta.

2. Skills Gained

Everyday for two weeks we were lucky enough to visit businesses that dealt with public relations, advertising, film, and media. We were taught valuable skills relevant to our studies by some of the best professionals in Spain. Talk about motivation! Every time we left a business, I felt like I was ready to take on the world!

3. Friendships

I do not know too many people from my school, so this trip was a big reason for me to go. There were people ages 20 to 33 on the trip with all kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. People that probably normally would not be friends all became so close in such a short amount of time just because of this experience. It was amazing the love we all had for each other by the end of the trip, even though we’re all so different.

4. New Perspective

It’s easy to get in our own bubble in the U.S. and think that our way of life is the “norm” (is there really such a thing), but going to Europe woke me into reality on how far behind I am compared to students my own age. I’d say about 90% of the people I met there spoke even a little bit of English. I do not speak any other language at all. Students there are taught from a young age 2-3 languages. Something like this gave me a new global perspective, and it has really motivated me to start working towards learning about the world, other cultures, and other languages.

5. Learning

Instead of being in a classroom for the semester, we were in film studios talking with producers, or in public relations firms learning their best strategies to getting new clients. This was incredible as a senior college student to be able to work directly with people in the field that I’m studying to be in. It was just like job shadowing, but a million times better. This trip was so much more than what I thought it would be. Yes, it was educational, but it was also life-changing for me because it changed my perspective on a lot of things. You can take a trip anywhere and have a great time, but to have an experience like this is definitely worth doing. I encourage you to consider studying abroad with your school because you really won’t know until you go.

Have you studied abroad, or are you planning to? Where? What was your experience like?

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Dos And Don’ts To Packing For Studying Abroad

Filed under: College Life, Tips, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Bailey Buckingham BookRenter Blogger Biography

I am lucky enough to be one of the student’s from Texas State going to Spain this summer to study abroad! I’ve been so excited for various parts of the trip, but as it gets closer, anxiety has definitely set in because I have had to start thinking about what I should pack! There’s only so much room in a suitcase, but I also want to make sure I’m prepared since I’ll be so far away from home!

I put together a list of my do’s and don’ts for my trip to help guide you when (or if) you take an abroad trip! Of course, these are things that are important to me, so you can always customize your list when the time comes!

Do’s

The most important things to pack when studying abroad are:

1. Passport/ID

This one seems pretty obvious, but I feel like I have to mention it because your passport is the number one important thing that you need to bring on your trip. Before you leave, make copies of it and your ID. Take copies for yourself, but also give family members copies of them, just in case something happens! It’s best to be prepared.

2. Camera

Whether it’s disposable, or a digital camera, bring one. Don’t just rely on your phone! This way you avoid running out of storage or damaging your phone. Also, the quality can sometimes be better.

3. Several Forms of Money

I plan on bringing a debit card, credit card, travelers checks, and also getting some Euro’s before I head to Spain. The last thing you want to happen is for something to get stolen and it be your only form of money. Keep these forms in different places around your luggage, and in the hotel safe!

4. Adapters

Pay attention to what country you’re traveling to and find out if you need to buy a special adapter. I need to bring one because of my hair devices and phone charger. Don’t wait until you get to the airport to buy one, it’ll be way over priced!

5. Comfortable Shoes

As much as I want to look good out on the streets of Barcelona and Madrid, I also know that their streets are mostly cobblestone and I’ll be doing a lot of walking. It’s way more important to be able to walk the next day, than to get a compliment on your shoes!

Don’ts

This list is just a few things people have advised me not to bring abroad. I agree with them and will pass them along to you:

1. More Than One Hair Device

This one is easy. Choose if you want a straightener or a curling iron. For those like me, who like both, just choose one! You’ll be thankful when your suitcase has more room!

2. Expensive Jewelry

You don’t need to bring any of your expensive jewelry. Especially if it has sentimental value. Leave it at home so you avoid the risk of losing it or it being stolen.

3. Lots of Shoes

Your best bet is to look over your itinerary and figure out exactly how many pairs of shoes you’ll need, and then don’t pack more than that. I’m bringing a business casual pair, a comfy pair, and sandals. Shoes take up so much space, and they aren’t a necessity.

Hopefully you’ll get to experience studying abroad, and if you do, hopefully this list helps you get started with your packing!

Share your packing advice in a comment below!

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Avoiding Hostel Horrors

Filed under: Tips, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

Since traveling to the country of Georgia, I have been learning a lot from my first abroad experience. I recently stayed in my first hostel. I was pretty excited to find such a deal on for one night. The hostel had great reviews so I didn’t expect any problems. Unfortunately, my stay in this particular hostel was a little less than enjoyable. Here are five tips I have for you just in case you’re preparing for a hostel stay since it may be a little bit of a different experience you may be used to:

1. Bring Soap

I thought it was a ‘given’ that the hostel would provide soap in the bathroom or shower like typical places you stay overnight in. Instead, I had to ask for it. Some hostels do not provide towels either so you’re better off bringing your own. Also, don’t walk around barefoot in the bathroom, no matter how clean it may appear.

2. Bring Earplugs

Whether you get your own private room, or you take a bunk bed in a dormitory, you are going to want earplugs. The lights may go off at a certain time, but that doesn’t mean the people around you will stop chattering. You may also want to consider bringing your own sleep sheet, just in case the hostel doesn’t provide sheets.

3. Don’t Bring Anything Expensive

Before you check out your hostel, it’s a good idea to see if they provide lockers. If you have a private room, you should be fine leaving your stuff. If you stay in a dormitory, be careful. Some hostels are perfectly secure, while it would be best in others to not leave your fancy Canon camera.

4. Ask The Staff

Feel free to do some research on your own to see where the best restaurants are locally, but don’t forget about the hostel staff. Ninety percent of the time they will have great recommendations not only for restaurants, but sights to see, and things to do.

5. Don’t Be Cheap

Just because you’re on a budget, that doesn’t mean you should go for the cheapest hostel around. Price your trip well in advance and plan to pay extra for whatever level of comfort you want. Saving money is not as important as your safety and comfort.

If you have never been in a hostel before, definitely be warned that it is completely different from a hotel. Be prepared to bring anything you may need and to not bring anything too valuable.

If you have any hostel-staying tips, feel free to leave them below!

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Traveling With Homesickness

Filed under: Social Life/Relationships, Tips, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

I have been in Georgia (the country, not the state) for a while now and I am finding adjusting to be a bit more of a chore than I expected. When I signed up to teach English abroad, all I pictured was living in a cool little town with interesting people, and no problems whatsoever. I could not have underestimated this journey more.

I’m in a small village only a 3 minute cab ride from the city, but the village looks like a completely different world. If I’m not wearing earplugs at night when sleeping, I wake up to the sound of chicks peeping, pigs oinking, roosters crowing, and dogs fighting. Being in this village without anyone I know immediately close by, and living with a family with an English level similar to that of an 8-year-old, has made me really homesick. However, I’ve been getting creative with how to soothe myself with this culture shock, so if you are experiencing homesickness abroad, here are my suggestions:

1. Buy Something Comforting

I’m surprised at the number of similar products Georgia has in their mini-marts. Whenever I’m in town, I make sure to stock up on treats: chocolate, Fanta orange soda or Sprite, and Pringles. Not only will you be satisfying your snack cravings, but you will be eating something familiar, which will help you relax. This applies to other products other than food too, although some may be hard to find in a different location.

2. Don’t “Should” Yourself

Do not think, “I should be feeling happy.” Everyone deals with situations differently. Allow yourself to wallow, cry, be sad, and be alone. It is normal to feel this way. Just don’t sit in it for long periods of time.

3. Reach Out

Email or call friends and family and tell them how you are feeling. Talk it out to whoever will listen. Advice, comforting words, and a new friend will often come of it. You will feel better just talking to someone you miss as well.

4. Distract Yourself

There have been plenty of times where all I want to do is curl up in bed and do nothing all day. Unfortunately, that would not only make the situation worse, it would also mean missing out on cool excursions, such as Georgian wine-tasting at local vineyards. It is actually better to make yourself busy so you forget you are homesick!

5. Pick Up A New Hobby

Take advantage of the time you have available and learn or brush up on a new language, or pick up that book you’ve always wanted to read, etc. The time will pass anyway, so you might as well take advantage of it by doing something fun and intriguing.

The best piece of advice I have been given in regards to traveling: do whatever you have to to make yourself comfortable. I take things day by day instead of looking at the long term, and that seems to make all the difference in this experience traveling abroad.

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Staying In Touch While Abroad

Filed under: Social Life/Relationships, Tips, Travel & Abroad - Angelina
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Serena Piper Blogger Biography

 

 

 

 

Preparing for my trip to the Republic of Georgia has come with its tradeoffs. I had to leave a familiar town, a great part-time job I’ve had for three years, and most importantly, my family and friends. It was difficult saying goodbye to people who have been my support system for so long. I have gone from seeing them every day, or at least every week, to not seeing them at all. It has made me think of creative ways to keep in touch with them so that it doesn’t seem like it has been so long that I have not seen them.

If you are preparing for your own adventure abroad or doing some traveling, here are some suggestions for staying in touch with those you love:

1. Skype

This is an obvious option for anyone using a computer. Free calls with anyone anywhere and you can see each other face to face! Another bonus, Skype is the perfect way to still have meals together – you can eat breakfast while they are eating dinner!

2. Postcards

Postcards are inexpensive enough that you can stock up on them in craft stores, airports, trinket shops in your visiting country, or you can even make them yourself! Print your photo at 4×6, turn it over and write your message, then stick on a stamp and write your friend’s address where they would normally go on a postcard and pop it in the mail!

3. Email

Since you probably won’t have phone access (unless you pay the extra fee for international service), email is the next best thing. However, if you do have coins, try the payphone at a nearby cafe. Depending on where you stay, there will most likely be a phone available.

4. Video

A lot of people like to keep a video diary which they update weekly or even monthly. This is a fun way to bring life (and reassurance) to what you’re experiencing, instead of just writing words. It will also be something great to look back on when you arrive back home and to share with your friends and family.

Keeping a journal and/or online blog of your travels will also help when you don’t have time to write each individual person. Just send one email out announcing the blog link and let everyone know it’s the best way to stay updated because of your unpredictable schedule. They will be able to leave you comments and follow your day to day adventures.

Happy travels!

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