The Most Important Study Abroad Tips, as Told by Study Abroad Alums

Visit Ikea, get lost, learn something new and make experiences you'll never forget.

We spoke to students around the country to learn more about making the most out of an educational trip abroad. 

What better way to prepare for your new adventure than with advice from avid-travelers who have been in your place? From getting lost in Amsterdam to meeting European communications professionals, these are their stories.

Travel, and travel often.

"Make a list of places you want to go to and make sure to go see them all. You may be exhausted by the end of it but you’ll be so happy you visited every place on your list," said Hailey Prichard, a former student at the  University of Southern Mississippi. "I studied Journalism in London for the majority of my month-long program, but I also visited Berlin, Dublin, Brussels, and Brugge. My favorite memory, however, was spending the day in Brighton, England. It's the cutest place that offers such great shopping and food."

Enjoy the immersive experience.

"I loved that we got to go visit different places every day," said Prichard. "Classes weren’t just sit down lectures, but more so tours and observations. We met with a different person or business every day. For example, one day we visited CNN London and another day we visited Twickenham to learn about Rugby, Oxford University and many more places."

Aubrey Robinson in Prague

Take a trip to Ikea.

"The first week in Prague, my roommate and I decided to go to Ikea to get items for our dorm," said Aubrey Robinson, a student at San Diego State University. "We went, got some essentials and ate at the food court—of course."

Thoroughly research transportation options. 

"I went on a trip to Amsterdam with a group of students, but upon our arrival, we realized our accommodations were a 3-hour bus ride from the city," said Robinson. "After a couple of hours, many bus transfers and a mile walk from the last station, we arrived at the cutest house on a bed of rivers."

Don't be afraid to get lost.

"While in Czech, my roommate and I ended up getting lost," Robinson said. "Our phones were dying, we had little data, no one in this town spoke English and we couldn’t use translation or navigation apps. Luckily, after taking a few trains and a bus, we got into an area where we were able to request an Uber. What could’ve been a stressful situation, turned out to be pretty exciting? We had to figure out a way to get home by ourselves. It was good reassurance that I’d be able to handle whatever’s thrown my way, even in a foreign country. I also got to experience the beautiful Czech countryside which I wouldn’t have before!"

Denajia Lowery in Greece

Learn from the cultural exchange.

"For three weeks the Greek students came to our university to study with us," said Denajia Lowery, a graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University. "We learned about consulting and worked with local companies on a group project. We also took courses in Greek culture and language. After that, we traveled to Athens for two weeks to do the same. The program was amazing. I was able to get a taste of what it’s like to work in different countries from people with different backgrounds, and I realized I really could live and work abroad."

Taylor Ross studying abroad

Get to know the community.

"During my time in Europe, I studied abroad in London for photojournalism and British politics and spent my spring break backpacking through Croatia," said Taylor Ross, a former student at Howard University. "My friend and I wandered down a hiking trail and ran into the Hiking Club of Dubrovnik. From there, it turned into an afternoon of story sharing, that turned into an amazing dinner. It was the first time I'd traveled and really spent time outside of an itinerary, getting to know the people of that community. It was totally random, but one of my best memories—and now I have some really cool Croatian Facebook friends."

Get out of your comfort zone.

"If I were to study abroad again, I would have chosen a country with a vastly different culture," said Ross. "London was fun. It was great academically and has an amazing art scene, however, I quickly realized that I was craving the enrichment that you get from being plopped in cities where the first language isn't English." 

Lilia Souri in front of a camel

Don't over plan your trip.

"Being flexible and adaptable is imperative," said Lilia Souri, a former student at Virginia Commonwealth University. "If you're a strict planner, try to let loose and go with the flow. My experience was so great because I didn't over-plan anything. Take the experience as it comes and seize every opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. You won't regret it!"

Make new relationships.

"My study abroad experience was absolutely euphoric," said Souri. "My favorite memories were spent with the amazing friends I made. Some within my program, others were locals. I traveled to 14 different countries and every great memory was made with the people who made the moments so amazing. I love to travel because it introduces me to new relationships."

Lilia Souri with friends in Brussels

Do whatever it takes to study abroad.

"Don’t let anyone persuade you not to study abroad. Do it for yourself and your future. You’ll meet a variety of people and it can open a lot of opportunities for you," said Lowery. 

Robinson also agreed on this point. 

"I would say just do it—study abroad! The longer the better. I’ve heard a lot of people say they’d be nervous or scared of getting homesick, but after being there for four months, my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer," said Robinson.

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