When abroad in Europe, students are faced with a dilemma. Students abroad should make an effort to truly immerse themselves in the city in which they reside, but there are so many places to see! Regardless of a student’s location in Europe, he/she is 2-3 hours away from some of the most sought-after European cities to visit. In addition, airline tickets can be purchased for a cheap rate if purchased in advance, which makes the desire to travel frequently even more appealing.
At first glance, it makes sense to travel across Europe every weekend and see the sights that you’ve always imagined yourself visiting. For some, this may be a fulfilling experience, but this approach comes with a great sacrifice. Traveling every weekend to varying extents will ultimately sacrifice the authentic feeling of being a local in your host city.
Here are some variables to consider before spending most/all of your weekends outside of your host city while abroad.
*The considerations below are based on my experiences abroad this semester, and also based on speaking with other students about their travel experiences.*
Many students are in class for several hours per day during the week (Monday-Thursday), as many universities abroad do not host classes on Fridays. Due to an intensive schedule that you will likely have during the week, this will leave you with limited time to fully immerse yourself in your host city, unless you spend a substantial amount of time there on non-class days.
Most classes will require you to participate in group projects, write papers, and complete midterms and final exams that will consume a notable part of your free time on the weekend when you aren’t in class. It is important to realize that although studying abroad is an experience that will come with a tremendous amount of fun and excitement, the level of rigor in your study abroad classes will be similar to the classes that you are taking at UT.
If you are studying in a non-English speaking country, frequently traveling outside of your host country will hinder the ability to immerse yourself in learning the spoken native language. Studying abroad provides you with a unique opportunity to practice speaking a language other than English. I recommend you keep this in mind if learning a language other than English is a high priority for you.
Traveling frequently will restrict your study abroad budget, and potentially prevent you from experiencing all of the famous and popular attractions that your host city has to offer. I recommend creating an informal budget at the beginning of the semester after you receive your syllabi, as this will help you create a plan to make the most out of your experience abroad.
My Final Thoughts
All in all, I recommend that you take a balanced approach to travel while abroad. In addition, I suggest making a list of your top five priorities, detailing what you hope to achieve while studying abroad. Taking a methodical and organized approach will allow you to truly maximize your experience abroad and to enjoy your great adventure along the way.
This post was contributed by Mel Stack, a 2018 Global Ambassador. Mel is in the Liberal Arts Honors Program and the McCombs School of Business Foundations Program. He is studying at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Mel’s experience in Barcelona>>