My program is coming to end soon and I really just wanted to share with you a few things I've learned through experience since my last post. So, from about the end of February I have been traveling somewhere almost every weekend with Either my program (ISA) or my friend Shaylynn. Info info we have so far been to Girona, Valencia, South of France, Madrid, Amsterdam, Paris, and just recently Portugal. Through all this traveling I've learned a few things That I find essential in trying to enjoy the Study Abroad travel experience while staying focused on the main purpose Also to study abroad - which is your culture and education perspective.
The first of the essential things is: Preparation
If you plan to travel During the weekend it's best to plan as soon as possible and as much as possible. Many of my teachers are very lenient when it comes to traveling but They can only bend the rules as much as the program will allow. Almost all of my classes have a very strict attendance policy (not very common in the States) in Which you can only miss 4-8 classes in order to be able to take the final exam (depending on how many hours of class you have) . I usually write down all the important dates in my classes - exams, quizzes, presentations ect - so there are no confusions That when booking trips.We do not have classes on Friday, which is good for traveling on the weekend, but a lot of people like to try to leave Thursday after class and come back Monday morning before class just to get the Most out of the weekend. In That case I would suggest saving your allotted absences for times where cutting it close That Could go wrong, ie you miss the train on you way back from the airport, your flight gets delayed, or worse case scenario you miss you flight all together. In another sense, sometimes flights are cheaper for one day That Dramatically Increase Whereas drastically They next day. For example, Shaylynn and I traveled to Amsterdam on Thursday on Which to my class ends at 24:30 and she has a class ends at 7:45 pm That. The flight for Amsterdam was much cheaper than in the afternoon and one in the evening was much cheaper than in the evening That early morning next Friday. Though it would Have Been much cheaper to travel in the afternoon on Thursday (In Which We both miss class), Shaylynn is allotted eight absences in her class while I am only allotted four. It's little tweaks like that can Interferes with traveling, that's why it's essential to Efficiently So THAT if need be to missed class does not Affect you plan progress in class.
Preparation and planning are essential not only for your attendance in class but Also for your finances. Budgeting is a key factor when it comes to planning a trip or even weekends spent Study Abroad in your city. I live in a home stay and my mother cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me and my roommates every day. However, sometimes I eat in between meals, and Usually I'm out of the house all day on weekends. Also many of our program excursions do not include meals. Eventually all this adds up, and trying to pay for food, living, entertainment and travel to where ever you May Becomes a bit more difficult towards the end of the program.
The second of the essential thing goes Along with the first one and it is: Studying
Strategically planning your trips clears up any confusion or inconveniences you would run into while traveling, but you Also have to Consider your traveling time. My Study Abroad semester is much Shorter than a semester at UMKC. Our classes end on April 10th, info info we have spring break, then we come back for finals for two days, April 22nd and 23rd. Usually classes are much Easier for the first two or three weeks. A lot of people take advantage of These weekends to travel where keeping up with your school work is not so difficult Often Because You have little to none. However, a problem is Most people When studying abroad find alone (like me), the first couple of weeks are spent trying to find friends and travel buddies. Often by the time you find someone to travel somewhere and your school work has gotten a little bit harder and requires more time studying . I suggest at the beginning That the program of study you set-up times THROUGHOUT the week as soon as you Become accustomed to your class schedule. Now, here in Barcelona there are a lot of little things people like to explore and see after class Such as parks, museums, as well as go to the beach. This is where I would suggest you plan your weeks Strategically (correlating With the first essential thing I Mentioned) for both "study time" and "exploring time". For example, Monday and Wednesday I have a class at 24:40 That Ends. and another from 3:40 pm-5: 8:00 pm. Between this time I go to the ISA office, eat lunch, and study; After class on Monday I usually plan my weekend (book trips, plan random adventures, ect.). Wednesday after class I study until dinner (Which is normally around 9pm). Tuesdays and Thursdays my classes end at 24:40, so I have the Entire day to explore and study. Tuesday afternoon I usually study for Most of the day then explore until dinner. Thursdays I finish planning my weekend (packing if I am planning on traveling) and study for the weekend so I do not That Have to cram for anything Sunday night or Monday before the class. This essential thing is very nit-picky and Usually not much fun, but the main purpose for studying abroad is the educational part and it's very much worth it to be able to travel THROUGHOUT the program with out any worries on schoolwork.
Finally the last essential thing is: Keeping up with your Health
As simple as that sounds, Constantly traveling does take a lot out of you. Like I said before Most people try to take advance of the cheaper flights after class at night or early in the morning before class coming back, But Usually This results in little sleep. I do not know about you, but I find it really hard to get a good night's rest on a plain or a train. Just recently on my Portugal trip we took advantage of an early morning flight on Monday in order to make it to my 11:00 a.m. class. The flight left at 6:50 a.m. Which meant we needed to wake up at 3am, leave by 4am, and be at the airport to check in and go though security by 5am. We arrived in Barcelona at 9am and then I had to go to class! Inexpensive flights are a bonus, but sometimes they come with a down side: such as This. Traveling all day, almost every weekend can be a drainer on your body Especially with a lack of sleep to add to it. Twice During my time abroad I've caught a cold Because of so much traveling, the change in weather, lack of sleep , and lack of water. My previous essential things to traveling, preparing / planning and studying are Most ideas importance of ideas, but They take up a good amount of time THROUGHOUT the week days. This means trying to catch up That on the sleep That You May have missed over the weekend Becomes a lot more difficult and can cause a great deal of stress!
With only about three weeks left in my program I thought it would be good to share what I felt was essential to enjoying your travel Study Abroad experiences while never losing focus to the true purpose. Not every one likes this much Have To Consider When so many destinations to wait, but it's definitely worth it so you will not ever have to look back With Any regrets!