Stay Positive and Calm
It’s inevitable that there will be bumps in the road or unexpected challenges while traveling. Whether traveling abroad or domestically, staying positive is one of the key components to a successful excursion. You can’t control certain situations or problems, but you can control your attitude. How you react as a whole sets a the mood for your trip, so act positive, stay calm and remember you're lucky to be traveling in the first place!
I can relate this to my Poland trip. Our flight from London to Krakow had to land at a different airport than planned due to fog, meaning our group had to take a five hour bus ride to Krakow (keep in mind it was midnight when we landed). When we were half way on our bus adventure, the wheel popped off our bus leading us to stand on the side of the highway in the middle of a field! Once another bus relieved our group, it was unable to make it all the way to our hostel due to narrow streets. We finally made it to our hostel at 5 a.m. to find a bachelor party next-door. However, our whole group stayed positive and made the best of the situation, giving me one of the best trips and some of the funniest memories from my whole study abroad experience. It bonded the group and we still laugh about it today!
Enjoy Every Minute
This is the most important part of studying abroad or traveling; you have to live in the present and realize how extremely lucky you are. My semester abroad flew by and I don't think I fully understood how lucky I was each and every day. A semester abroad, or traveling in general, doesn't come around often for most. This is very important to remember because it could push you to take advantage of every opportunity and explore every culture to the deepest of your ability. Do everything you can!
Take risks every time you travel somewhere new. I don’t mean you have to put your life in danger, but try new foods, get immersed in a new culture or try a new activity. If I had stayed inside my comfort zone throughout my semester, I wouldn’t have walked away with many of the memories I did. I also wouldn’t have understood the different cultures in the depth I do because I wouldn’t have been as involved with the local people. It is extremely important to get our of your comfort zone not only to make amazing memories, but to learn more about who you are as a person and the world around you.
I was definitely out of my comfort zone when I traveled to Athens with two other friends. Barely anyone spoke English and the city was a little more run down than what we were used to in London and back home in MN. We solely had to rely on our own instincts and knowledge which was frightening, but in the end showed me what I am capable of doing independently. My friends and I had an amazing weekend and saw so much history that we never would have if we stayed within our comforts and only traveled to English-speaking countries.
Keep a Journal
I am beyond happy that I kept a journal while traveling. Now that I am back in MN, my journal is the one thing that still makes me feel connected to London and the other places I have visited throughout Europe. It contains so many stories and memories that I can look back on for the rest of my life; without a journal not everything would remembered. It took a lot of time to write, but there is a multitude of travel time on planes, trains, etc. so it’s worth every minute. I still read mine when I’m missing the people, places or experiences I had. I know many who didn't write a journal, which they greatly regret. Document your adventures because you aren't going to want to forget anything!