Bringing Me Back to Abroad: Valencia, Spain!
Last week the Abroad101 team welcomed Amy, our new Marketing Consultant and Content Creation Specialist. Amy is very excited to be a part of our team and loves to talk travel, culture and food. Below, Amy provides some tips for study abroad based on her own experience back in 2004. Welcome, Amy!
Hi! I’m Amy and I’m thrilled to be the newest member of the Abroad101 team. 2 of my favorite things include marketing and travel, so having the chance to combine those makes for a pretty sweet deal. My first day at Abroad101 had me thinking back to my own study abroad experience in 2004. I was lucky enough to spend a summer in Valencia, Spain through Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. I loved my time abroad, but certainly remember the challenges. I’ve decided to share my own list of dos and don’ts for studying abroad here. What else would you add?
1. Take advantage of making friends with locals and get to know your host family if you’re staying with one. Are you in a country where English isn’t the main language? Befriending locals is a great way to strengthen your foreign language skills. Once you heighten your ability to speak the language, your confidence will increase and you’ll feel more independent as you navigate the city without a translator by your side.
2. Get lost in your new city! (albeit safely) Walk around and get to know the different neighborhoods and areas of town. Check out all the main sights and explore some lesser known spots too. Chat with locals and ask for directions. This will force you to step outside your comfort zone, increase your confidence and allow you to make new friends. Once you know your new town, you can direct others when they look lost. How cool would that be?
3. If you have weekends free, take a few to get out of town. Explore other cities in your new country and take advantage of seeing as many places as you can while abroad. This will give you a better sense of the country overall and help you see what types of cities you like best. Do you love cities like Granada that offer a smaller, quainter vibe? Or do you thrive on big cities like Madrid? With this recommendation however, the need for balance between travel and getting to know your host city should be noted. Both are equally important.
1. Don’t travel without a credit card or extra cash for use in emergencies. I learned this lesson the hard way during a weekend trip to London. The hostel that I booked wound up being less than acceptable (see next “don’t”) and I had to find a decent place to stay, quickly. I didn’t bring a credit card with me, was out of cash and, well… it wasn’t the best experience.
2. As a follow-up to #1, don’t book a hotel or hostel without researching it and reading reviews. Look up the neighborhood too and make sure it’s in a safe area of town. It’s not the best welcome to realize you booked a grimy place to stay.
3. Don’t assume anything while in a foreign country. This may seem vague, but most countries operate very differently than the United States. It’s important to have all necessary information before travelling or making a decision in a foreign country. If you aren’t sure about something, ask someone who speaks English. A little upfront research can save you big headaches down the line.