After studying abroad, I learned so much about myself and the world. I decided to share some advice to help future students navigate this new experience. Here are five things that helped me while studying abroad.

1. Go to Class!

I know this may seem self-explanatory because, after all, it’s in the name. But when you’re in a new country, school can sort of be the last thing on your mind. You get so caught up in traveling, meeting new people, and trying new things that you lose focus on why you’re really there. Going to class is the simplest thing you can do, and it can be the deciding factor in whether you pass the course or not. You don’t want to fail the semester you convinced your parents would be a piece of cake. Also, you can learn so many things from attending, depending on what classes you take. You didn’t spend all that money for nothing!

2. Be Open-Minded

Being open-minded is the key to making the most of your study abroad journey. Many things may not go your way, and that is fine. You just have to learn and adjust. When studying abroad, you have to learn to adjust a lot. You might miss a train or even get on the wrong train and end up in another city (I did both), but instead of getting overwhelmed, just laugh about it, take a second, and try again. Now you have a story of how you got lost in Italy and had to get on another train to get back to the right place. Go with the flow and just enjoy life.

3. Know How To Budget

Money—oh, how we need it, and oh, how you need it while studying abroad. Before you go, make sure you pick a program that is right for you and that you know you can afford. You don’t want to end up in debt trying to study in another country. You still have the opportunity to travel in the future, and it might be better for you to wait for that opportunity instead. Apply to as many scholarships as possible as well. Once you’re there, this is when the real budgeting comes into play. You have to think about food, transportation, travel, activities, etc. I spent most of my money on food, and looking back, I definitely could have budgeted that better. Try to give yourself a limit and save as much money as you can to bring with you. You don’t need to eat at every restaurant, go to every club, or even shop every other week. Spend what your savings allow, and that will be different for everyone.

4. Plan Your Trips

Most likely, you will want to travel, but it’s okay if you don’t. It’s more than just thinking of a destination and magically popping up there. You have to consider multiple things beforehand. I recommend making a list of places you truly want to visit (don’t choose places based solely on what you see online) and then look into things you can do there. You don’t want to waste your time going to a place whose main highlight is a ferris wheel if you’re afraid of heights. This is a list you should have beforehand so you have an idea for when you get to wherever you’ll be living. I guarantee that you will find a travel buddy or maybe even a group.

Next, you need to find accommodations and flights. I encourage you to get on this because flights will be much cheaper, and it will be easier to find a place to stay. Think about how you’ll get to and from the airport. I wasted money on taxis from the airport when I could’ve used public transportation. Book tickets for excursions and activities beforehand, sometimes months in advance, depending on how popular they are. GetYourGuide and Viator have a lot of fun excursions and activities that you might have never thought of, so look there as well.

For food, read reviews and don’t go to touristy spots, because it might not be worth it. Explore the city and ask around for recommendations. You can even use social media to help. The main point is to have fun, not to have your whole day planned to a T. Don’t have an itinerary for everything. I enjoyed some things the most because I found them by chance.

5. Don’t Let The Negative Get You

There will always be some negative naysayers around, and you might make a mistake, but don’t let it get you down. When it comes to traveling and visiting certain places, a lot of people have different experiences. Don’t have any expectations about the places you want to visit. For example, two of my friends went to Nice and said they hated it. They found the people rude and were bored. But my roommate and I had a great time—the people were so nice to us that we got stuff for free and were invited to places. I won’t forget an older American couple helping us use the bus and telling us about how they moved to France to enjoy their retirement years. Imagine if we had gone into Nice with a closed mind—we might have hated it too. You can’t let one person’s opinion dictate yours. Stick to being positive and making the best of every experience.

I hope you got something out of this. Thank you, Barcelona, for welcoming me with open arms. You will always have a place in my heart. Chao!