When studying abroad there is a great chance to explore things within or outside of your host country. In my case since studying in Italy and my permit of stay, a legal paper that lets me stay in Italy due to my Visa. Housing gives me the opportunity to explore any country within the European Union (EU). Of course, I’ve taken some trips to enjoy myself and get more familiar with different cultures outside the United States. I will share the sort of process that I have found to be very helpful when traveling for a weekend or during a break.
The first step when you know where you want to go, recommending a week or so in advance. That will let your host university and home university know that you are taking the trip. It is for safety reasons, so they know that if anything happens to you they can get contact quickly and efficiently. If you’re a US Citizen, it is also good to sign up with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which alerts you from the embassy of your home country any emergency that can happen in the country or countries you are visiting. Safety is the number one priority for yourself; documents and papers can be replaced, but not your life.
Equally as important is to do some research about the country you visit. Knowledge is power and with that power, you can have more time to see the best sites and have a schedule more or less set up to what you want to do. This way you can enjoy, checking out a famous center for nightlife or finding a cool historic site that means a lot to the people of the country. It can also give the chance to buy tickets and go to a faster line for museums. It also helps to find out if there might be special events that are being celebrated while you visit. The more you know, the better time you can have on your trip.
Next is working out a budget; see how much will a flight cost for a round trip as well as accommodations. When I traveled to Paris, the round trip was about 120 euros. The hostel for four nights was around 140 euros with a total of 280 euros just for those two things. While it is great to have places to stay and know you got a flight that is not accounting for souvenirs, food, or entrance tickets which in my case was going to the catacombs and going up the Eiffel Tower. I also recommend using cash as much as possible as it is easier to keep track of how much you’re spending and don’t have to wait so long for card readers. With some places being more expensive than others, it can be better to have a flexible budget for any emergency.
Finally, don’t be afraid to explore a bit more if you get the chance. Sometimes a tour or a walkthrough ends up shorter than you expected or planned in that regard. Those are the times where I see it is best to be a bit more adventurous through the city or place nearby. There might be a really nice restaurant around the corner or a cafe that serves really good Paninis. The chance of also finding another cool place to visit while you explore could be nearby as well. Those are the moments that can really immerse you in the culture of the country you are visiting. It is completely fine to be a tourist once in a while where you are exploring a new area and get to fully take advantage of your study abroad.