My time spent on the Summer Europe Seminar with IBS was undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating journeys I have ever experienced. There was simply so much to do, so much to see, every single day we were abroad. The closest analogy that comes to mind is that of a sponge- I found myself constantly trying to absorb this stream of information that flowed from one city to the next. Quite honestly, never in my life had I been barraged with so many new ideas and adventures, in such a relatively short period of time.
In theory, one would say if they could do it all again, they wouldn’t change a thing. But from my personal experience, there’s a handful of slight adjustments I would have made retrospectively. Certainly not a change in behavior or major decisions- more appropriately a few tweaks that would allow me to take the most back home when all was said and done.
Tips for Studying Abroad with IBS
First and foremost, my advice to those preparing for a seminar abroad is to maintain a journal. It’s going to be easy to feel like there’s always too much going on, that there’s never an appropriate time to put into writing what you’re experiencing. But it is there- set aside 10 minutes before going out each night; you will be so thankful when you finally return home. So much is going to happen over the course of three weeks, there will be moments that slip through the cracks of your memory- so while you still can, put them all in one place.
Your backup to this idea is your phone; prepare before your trip and ensure you have as much memory available as possible. You’ll want to take as many photos as you can: people, places, food; if it makes you smile, take a picture of it. Don’t forget videos as well! The nostalgia they’re capable of producing is nothing short of spectacular. Keeping this in mind, invest in a pocket phone charger. I wasted an hour of our day trip in Venice looking in shop after shop trying to find one to revive my phone.
Finally, take the luggage advice you receive from both IBS and your group leaders seriously. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably still going to over pack. It’ll still be manageable, but don’t say I didn’t tell you!
Above all else when you start each day: recognize the incredible opportunity you are experiencing abroad, and live accordingly. If this is going to be your first time abroad, even if I have never met you, the excitement I feel on your behalf is immeasurable. Buckle up my friend, your horizons are about to expand even faster than your imagination.