Your luggage is packed (and probably overweight), you’ve said goodbye to your friends, and your passport is in hand. Now what?
International Business Studies is a very unique program. I mean, in the sense that you are able to visit various cities, in a short amount of time, and get to experience each city’s culture within the short time you are there. That being said, it’s very important to be prepared, get over jet lag, and make the most of the time you are there! Here are a few of my favorite insights for before and during your trip.
1. Research, research, research!
This is so incredibly important because even if you have five days or 48 hours in a city, you want to be able to experience their wide ranges of culture. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint! You should be able to have fun and experience the city throughout your whole time abroad, rather than trying to pack all the things you want to do in 24 hours.
2. Be a local, not a tourist
For example, if you are planning to go to London, don’t expect to look like you just jumped out of a scene from the musical “Hairspray!” Pack your rain boots, bring your trench coat, and dress for the occasion. The people of London tend to wear neutral, dark colors. Even though it’s great to dress like yourself and be the unique person you are, it’s also smart to dress like a local in the sense that you won’t be more prone to pickpocketing.
Secondly, eating at all the famous restaurants and eateries are always on my bucket list, yet it’s also so great to pop-in to a little “hole in the wall” bakery in Paris and try their croissants. Ask the locals what their favorite place to eat is. I promise it will be just as yummy as the 5-star restaurant on Yelp.
3. Open your mind
Although it’s over said, it is firmly tried and true. Immersing yourself in a different country’s culture can be hard. Trying new foods can be hard. Being away from home can be hard. With all this in mind, you have to remember that you’ve set out on an experience unlike any other. Do something every day that might scare you!
I was incredibly scared of heights but I knew that going on top of the London Eye and the Eiffel Tower was something on my bucket list. I set my mind to it, paid for the ticket, and at that point, there was no turning back! Don’t be scared to try new foods or test out your very “rooky-like” French to locals. You’ll gain more knowledge and make even more memories when you open your mind and heart to each new city.
4. Make a bucket list
When you’re in a new country/city for only a few days, you want to have a list of things to accomplish on hand. Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris, take a picture in a phone booth in London, walk along Lake Geneva in Switzerland, and eat all the schnitzel you can in Germany!
Finding these places and creating a tentative plan before leaving abroad can be so helpful! This way, your eyes aren’t glued to a map and you end up using all your data on your phone trying to find fun things to do. Creating a bucket list will only enhance your excitement to come and you can let all your overflowing fun out while on the trip, getting to experience the things you’ve only read about.
5. Pack Smart
This is some of the most crucial advice if you want to gain the best experience you can. While traveling and adventuring through each country, there is no time to be worried about what you’re wearing, while you could be stuffing your face with crepes in Paris! Look at Pinterest, read blog posts (wink wink), and check out the weather for the next couple of weeks to pack everything you’ll need while abroad.
Remember to leave a bit of room for souvenirs you promised all your best friends and family. I packed all neutral colors, a ton of basic items, and a few accessories and felt well-prepared for everything we did!