I have been back from my incredible semester in Prague for a little bit now, and it has taken me a while to process all of my thoughts and feelings about my experiences in Europe. I have formed some thoughts on travel, budgets, and experiences, and hopefully this can be helpful for anyone who is about to go abroad or thinking about signing up.
Traveling can get expensive. Even though traveling within Europe is so much cheaper than traveling to each of those places from the U.S., it can still add up on a student budget. My best advice for anyone who is about to study abroad is to remember that you will probably never live in a situation like this again and to soak in as many experiences as possible, even if your wallet hurts a little. Obviously you still need to be financially responsible to some degree, but as a whole, don’t be afraid to splurge a little in order to try something or visit somewhere new. When I would travel on the weekends, I would try to book at least one thing in advance. For example, I booked a food tour for my trip to Venice, and it was definitely my favorite thing I did there. Our tour guides knew the area and the food so well, and it took the pressure off of me to plan my afternoon. Looking back at my semester abroad, I do not regret a single dollar I spent because I was able to shape my experience into exactly what I wanted. I was able to visit 10 different countries, and it was worth every penny.
You (most likely) will not have extracurricular meetings and obligations that you would normally have at school, so take advantage of the extra free time to do things that you genuinely want to do. One of my favorite things to do after my Wednesday classes in Prague was to walk home and find a new café or restaurant each time to treat myself to a coffee and dessert. It allowed me to get to know the city a little bit better, and it is always fun to do something just because you can. Your semester will truly be a time of self-growth, so I encourage everyone going abroad to spoil yourself and focus on what you want to get out of it.
I can confidently say that studying abroad is one of the best decisions I have ever made, hands down. I feel so lucky that I was able to have that experience and shape it into what I wanted it to be. If you are considering studying abroad, please do it. I used to make up excuses as to why I could not go and convinced myself that it just probably wasn’t in the cards for me, but I forced myself to commit right before the deadline and never looked back. When telling people about my semester, one of the things I hear from people most often is that their biggest regret from college is the fact that they didn’t study abroad. It can be nerve-wracking to think about spending four months in a foreign country, but I promise that you will grow in ways you never thought possible and make memories that you will truly never forget.