- You can often find cheap means of travel that are geared towards students (Ryanair, Easyjet, etc..) Sometimes the program or university will help you out. One student who studied at Doshisha University in Kyoto writes: “It’s good to use the Student Travel Office at the University – the program provided us with member cards for it and thanks to that we got great discount for things like bullet train and bus tickets, hotel stays and even more international travel.”
- It usually makes for a good adventure. According to a student who traveled while studying at St. Andrews in Scotland: “Travel as much as you can. I was gone four weekends in a row, and actually managed to travel fairly cheaply with budget airlines and by staying with friends wherever I could. The class schedule at St Andrews can make travel pretty easy; I only had class on Tuesday and Thursday, so I usually left on Thursday night and came back on Monday morning. Also, try to find a couple of travel buddies you can get into a travel routine with.”
-Sometimes escaping the hub where you are gives you a different perspective on the country as a whole. A student who studied with CIEE: Buenos Aires says that her favorite part of the trip was “Traveling outside of Buenos Aires and learning the true culture of the country, not just the city.”
- You may miss out on incredible sights that are right nearby you, or only a modest distance away. It would not do to study in Southern Spain and miss the famous mosques and palaces there because you were hopping back and forth between Madrid and Barcelona. The people of Andalusia are also unique as well. Here is a quote from a Wellesley Student who studied in Cordoba with PRESHCO: “Travel but also get to know where you are. It makes it so much better if you love where you are and know people there as well. Getting to know locals makes the experience 100% better.”
- If you are doing a language program and staying with a host family, it is always good to spend as much time around them as possible and improve your language skills. In fact, a lot of students will say that their host family was the best and most memorable aspect of their experience. A student who did IES in Nantes says: “My host family was my favorite part of the program. I felt right at home and they helped me so much with my french.”
- You may miss out on some great friendships, with both those in your program and the locals, if you’re constantly on the move. As one student who went to the University of Sydney put it: “You will have the time of your life. Don’t hang out with just other American students. I saw so much of the city that I never would have seen through my Aussie friends.”
But there is a middle road. If you are abroad for long enough you can manage your travel in a balanced way. One way to balance it is often to travel farther once the program is finished. This gives you enough time in your host location, as well as a chance to get outside of it once you are no longer living there. One student who did SIT: Durban says: “Travel the country once your studies end! There is stuff you won’t see while studying and you won’t want to leave immediately once your studies finish. So make time afterwards.” In short, it is up to you what you chose to experience abroad. Just be mindful of the trade-offs involved.