Advice for traveling during study abroad

By: Aria Wozniak

Studying abroad changed my life. It was an incredible experience that I have no regrets about. There are a few things that I did right and a few things I wish I had done differently. 

I didn’t know much about Berlin upon arrival, but I approached it by embracing the unfamiliar. Arriving in a new country, not knowing the language, and having never navigated a foreign city alone is scary. I encourage you to welcome being uncomfortable and keep an open mind to all new experiences and people (even if it doesn’t seem like your thing at first). I observed that judgments and staying closed off diminished experiences for some. Staying positive and inquisitive and getting to observe new cultures and people is a large part of growing and studying abroad. There is no room to be negative, hesitant or critical during your short time in your new country if you want the fullest experience possible. Step outside of your comfort!

Another thing I recommend is to pack only the basics. Packing light and bringing a few special outfits is the way to go. I was able to find so many cool gifts, items and clothing while I was traveling. If you know this is going to be hard for you, packing an extra duffel to check on your way back is best if you don’t want to buy new luggage in your new country. 

Reflecting on my experience, I wish I had gotten more integrated with the locals. I did join a climbing gym and met lots of people at clubs or on weekend trips, but I regret not following up and hanging out with them. It would have been cool to look back and have foundations built across the world on top of the relationships I found with other American students.

I also regret not documenting my travels better. Be it a journal or vlog, doing a daily or weekly recap is such a good way to look back and remember your time abroad. I did a few videos with my friends reflecting on our adventures or our nights out which have become treasured to me. However, dedicating yourself to a journaling/video recap routine is never something you’ll regret once you depart from your study abroad experience. 

Overall, throw yourself into studying abroad. Part of what made this experience so special is that I knew I would never be in my 20s again where I have the experience of very few commitments or responsibilities while traveling, meeting new people and living in a new city. It was the best opportunity and privilege I could hope for.