Before heading out of the country I heard a lot of “Do Not’s.” To me this is very negative. “Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t stay out late. Don’t go where you don’t know. Don’t forget anything. Don’t be an ‘annoying’ American. Don’t wear North Face Jackets. Don’t wear athletic clothes. Don’t wear tennis shoes everywhere. Don’t bring a fancy camera. Don’t look like a tourist. Don’t talk loud. Don’t be over-excited.” *
Unfortunately, I broke all those rules.
1. I’m American and have a lack of foreign language experience
2. I LOVE taking pictures
3. My bubbly personality gets very excited…
4. I wanted to wear comfy shoes
5. Athletic clothes make up 90% of my wardrobe
6. Guess what?! It rained. My jacket is a North Face.
7. Sometimes strangers had the best advice
8. Staying out late to see the Eiffel Tower with friends was the best
9. I forgot things, like vitamin C and extra conditioner
So my advice to you is:
ASK lots of questions
BE your beautiful self and embrace the culture
BE prepared with phone/camera chargers
BE prepared for crazy weather
DO bond with the leaders (they know what they’re doing!!)
DO bring foreign currency with you
DO bring an extra pen and pencil (maybe even paper)
DO check that your credit card has no foreign fees (it’s a lifesaver!)
DO check exchange rates
DO go somewhere unplanned
DO get slightly lost in Venice
DO take lots of pictures
DO make memories with people who were strangers at the beginning of the seminar
DO wear what you want (remember business clothes though!)
DO write down your daily activities
DO take notes during the seminar
DO have discretion with your cell phone
DO make new friends
DO post to social media (people will want to know you’re safe!)
DO start your paper on the trip (at least an outline)
DO try new food
DO try something a local suggests
DO video record some of your activities
DO ask for business cards
DO grow your LinkdIn network
DO make sure you have a LinkdIn
*Although I do suggest NOT losing your passport. Locking it up in a bag or safe is always a good idea. Sometimes having it on you 100% of the time isn’t the safest route.
Studying abroad should be a positive experience! It becomes a looming experience when people start saying, “Don’t, beware, look out for, etc.…” This isn’t an experience to be scared away from. Embrace all the positives! You have been given the opportunity to travel to a foreign country and meeting with first-class businesses. This type of seminar isn’t an option for a lot of business students, so take advantage of all this has to offer. There are many staff members accompanying you, who have done these trips before. Utilize their knowledge to make the best of your trip. Make friends with other students, but don’t get sucked into the same group. It’s okay to break off, if another group is going somewhere you want to go. Don’t sacrifice what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance, because you don’t know someone!
The business meetings are not intimidating. Talk to the speaker(s) at the end of a presentation if you have further questions, or would like to add them to a network. Dress professionally and be ready to take notes. The more information you have regarding a subject the easier it will be to write about for your paper. It’s easier to cut-down than to try and come up with more material. Be yourself and you’ll have the best time possible on your trip.