After a month in Europe, I’m now home again. It’s bittersweet, because as happy as I am to be back home with my family and all the conveniences of America, I’m already missing the amazing experience I had. I don’t think anyone can ever be fully prepared to go abroad for the first time, so I included some tips for visiting Europe that I wish I had known before I left:
- If you’re particular about your toiletries, bring your own from home! I assumed that Belgium would have the same brands as America, but it didn’t, and I was stuck buying the only kind of shampoo and conditioner a small convenience store offered (the labels were in French, so I had to assume they were shampoo and conditioner!). It’s worth the extra suitcase space to just bring your own from home. Plus, you can throw them away at the end of the trip and have more room for souvenirs.
- Bring comfortable shoes AND band-aids! We did lots of walking, and most people had blisters by the end of the first week.
- Consider bringing (or buying) a refillable water bottle- most restaurants charge for water and give you very little by American standards.
- Keep an open mind! While it’s great to have a detailed plan of everything you want to see and do, some of the best experiences come from just wandering around and discovering something new.
Although I was only abroad for a month, I learned a great deal about European politics and culture. Travelling to other countries is undoubtedly an eye-opening experience, and I’m so grateful I had this opportunity. While I’m happy to be back in America, enjoying things such as air conditioning, ice cold drinks, and everything being in English, I know I can’t wait to return to Europe in the near future.