Every spring Arcadia University takes first years out of the country for seven amazing days of tourism and educational experiences. Spring Preview is designed to give students the chance to take a study abroad test run. For most students it is the first time that they will be out of the country, or the first time that they will be traveling without their parents, cue the chaos and wild nights. I participated in Spring Preview one year ago and traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was the trip of a lifetime and I was exposed to more culture in that week than I have been in any other week of my life. Although the trip was amazing, one of the best parts of Preview was being able to come back to school and swap stories with all of my friends (after we got over the jet lag of course). Traveling abroad at such a young age can be daunting and downright scary at times; you have to be aware of new surrounds and customs. During the exchanges I have had with students that have been on preview or who have studied abroad I’ve learned a few traveling tips that might be helpful to all who plan to travel in the future.
1. Don’t waste your time thinking about what people are doing at home.
Visiting another country is an incredible experience that most people won’t get. Although it can be hard, don’t spend your trip wondering what your boyfriend or girlfriend is doing back in America, trust me it won’t be half as exciting as anything that you’re doing. So many students ruin their whole trip because they’re too consumed with the things that they left at home to enjoy what’s right in front of them. Revel in the time that you have abroad, trust me you’ll appreciate it later when you’re at home sitting on your couch thinking about all the moments you had and those that you lost.
2. Don’t drink two bottles of wine in one night.
This rule was inspired by a dear friend of mine who for some unknown reason was under the impression that her tiny five foot body could handle consuming two bottles of wine on the night before flying home from Paris. She was wrong. Long story short, she fell asleep in a bathtub, had to be carried out, and spent the whole morning and plane ride puking her guts out. Yeah, sucks right? There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the lowered drinking age, and pub/bar life can be a key part of the cultural experience. However, try to avoid getting smashed cause it’ll mar the whole night and piss you’re friends off when they have to carry you out of a bathtub.
3. Do talk to all celebrities that you sight.
Seeing a celebrity is a rare and spectacular event, but you have a greater chance of sighting a celeb when you’re in a major airport or abroad. My roommate stood next to Forrest Whitaker when looking at the flight board in JFK. She couldn’t muster up the courage to talk to him and I berate her about it every time it comes up! Another group of girls ran into Bonnie Wright, aka Ginny Weasley, at a pub in London. Apparently she’s not very friendly, but that didn’t change the star struck feeling they got from talking to her!
4. Don’t go home with strangers.
Ok I know this is a basic rule of safe traveling but you wouldn’t believe how many students do this! Girls, I know the accents can suck you in and guys, I understand exotic beauties enamor you but this is one escapade that could go wrong in so many ways. But know this; if you must separate from your group remember to at least tell a friend first. Because preview is only seven days, we didn’t have cell service, which led to us spending many nights hunting for kids that we’d lost. So remember kiddies, STRANGER DANGER!
5. Do act as touristy as humanly possible.
Many people will tell you that you should try to blend in with locals by keeping your cameras in your bag and act like you belong. Don’t listen to them. Take as many pictures as you possibly can and don’t hide the excitement of seeing a country for the first time. You and your family will appreciate it later when you’re forced to relate every moment of the trip to them (and trust me, they will want to know everything!). You only get one first. Make it special, take chances, and let yourself soak up everything that you are exposed to.
Even though we may have to stay in grimy hostels and survive off of fish and chips, traveling is an incredible and eye opening experience for college students. As well as getting a good laugh, we can also learn a thing or two from each other’s mistakes so feel free to tell us your wildest story or most helpful traveling tip in the comments below!