The day has finally come – you’re off the flight with your life in tow, heading to your new home for the semester. There’s nothing quite as exciting as looking forward at three months of alluring open space, ready to be filled by adventures in beautiful, foreign places with people you’ll soon call your best friends. But before you get started, there are a few things you should do so that you adjust to this experience as soon as possible.
1. Get to know your new home
This is the city you’ll be living in for the next few months, so you’ll want to connect with it early on. Wander around, get a little lost, try out new bars and cafes with your friends to find your go-to. It also helps to research any customs or other cultural information it’d be useful to know while living there. The more you learn about your city and explore, the more you’ll gain a sense of direction and understanding that can help guide you through the city and make you feel more comfortable during your semester.
2. Sort out the basics
International calling is incredibly expensive; chances are, if your American service provider allows international data use, it costs a lot more than it’s worth. Get a cheap sim card that you can plug in your phone and use data without worrying. Most cost ~20 euros for a month’s worth of data that you likely won’t run out of. It also helps to figure out how your international health insurance works (if it isn’t covered by your study abroad program) as well as how you’ll pay for things while abroad. Having an international bank account like Revolut is best (and free), as you avoid insane bank and atm fees.
3. Plan out your trips
There is a best time to go to each city in Europe. Some cities have incredible street fairs and cultural festivals at certain times that most travelers might not know. Others may have exciting things to do that are only available at certain times of the year. Knowing where to go when will ensure you check off everything your bucket list and more. For help, check out our calendar of trips this semester, which we’ve curated so that each trip is at the perfect time for that city, with the best weather, least crowding, and all the cultural experiences you could ever want.
4. Practice the language
If you’re studying in a place where a language besides English is spoken (even if English is the main language, there are often special regional languages) you’ve got the best possible opportunity to learn it. Immersion is proven to be the fastest way to learn a language. So get yourself a nice base understanding through your classes or by studying the language yourself, and then head out to practice! Don’t be nervous, nobody is noticing your mistakes as much as you think. And if you’d like a fun & easy way to learn, most cities have intercambios or language exchanges, where you can sit at a bar and meet new people who are all practicing different languages.
5. Spend some time alone
We get it, it’s super exciting to be surrounded by new (or old) friends, in a new place, with tons of new experiences to have. Embrace this, bond and have fun with the people you meet! But be sure to spend a bit of time by yourself every now and then, especially in the beginning – go for a 20-minute walk around your neighborhood, or take yourself out to coffee in the morning and read for an hour. Quality time alone allows you to check in with yourself and process this crazy experience, and will help you mindfully make the most of each moment.
Now that you’ve started out right, keep the good vibes going all semester with our curated weekend trips, where you can experience the best of cities like Amsterdam, Paris and Prague at crazy affordable prices.