11 unlikely tips for studying abroad in Europe

  1. Go to dive bars
    • Bars that make you feel like you’ve fallen into a rabbit hole.
    • Ones that make you question why you ever went to the big name bars, when all they have to offer are high prices and an oversupply of Americans.
  2. Walk everywhere
    • I walked to and from school most days when I lived in Madrid. You just never know who or what you might run into.
    • Every day I left my apartment felt like an adventure. I was always getting lost, discovering streets and stores that I wouldn’t have seen had I taken the bus or the metro.
  3. That being said, DO use the metro for long distances or when you’re hungover/drunk
    • When your night turns into morning and the metro is open, it’ll leave you wondering why you ever used Uber. 
    • Madrid’s metro and train systems even take you to major surrounding towns for free with your metro card! Most metro systems will take you to the front of major sites.
    • BUT like I said: walk when you can, you’ll see a lot more of the country than if you were underground in a tunnel. 
  4. Talk to the locals in their language
    • Don’t be scared to talk to the locals. You are their guest.
    • Respect their country and understand their culture by getting to know its people.
    • Who knows, maybe when you want to come back in the future, you’ll have a friend to stay with.fullsizeoutput_2c8d.jpeg
  5. Eat bakery bread
    • This one is self-explanatory.
    • Warm bread is the best bread.
  6. Happy hour is every hour
    • Drinking in Europe is encouraged during meals.
    • It’s usually cheaper than water.
  7. Take pictures of everything
    • Take Instagram pics shamelessly, but also remember to take pictures of the streets and the people.
    • When you revisit the photo at home it will throw you right back into the precise moment that you took it. A photo that brings back that rush of euphoria.IMG_0251
  8. Don’t panic when things don’t go as planned
    • In one week, I had two phones stolen from me. I was left empty handed, unable to take pictures. I was mortified thinking my ability to capture all the breathtaking locations I was experiencing was compromised. Luckily, my friend, Clare O’Donnell, lent me an old android phone. It couldn’t take quality photos as well as I liked but it still captured the essence of the moment all the same.fullsizeoutput_2c8a
  9. Do everything
    • Eat everything too.
    • On some days you’ll be really tired, but get a cup of coffee from one of the many cafes and go explore.
    • Don’t waste time catching up on sleep because before you know it, it’ll all be over and you’ll be on the plane back to reality.
  10. When it is over, hold on to the high
    • Hold on to that feeling.
    • Take the fresh, foreign perspective you’ve just soaked up and apply it to your life at home. That is, after all why you left home right? To learn something new.
  11. Bring the high home
    • Everything you just experienced will feel like a dream, like nothing happened and yet everything happened at once.
    • Your friends at home won’t understand. Time will feel like it’s stopped. A lot of your study abroad friends won’t live nearby, but thanks to the digital age we can stay close.
    • Don’t be discouraged by going home though, all those memories were real. You should live everyday as you did during the time you studied abroad: with an open mind and a sense of excitement for the adventures each new day brought.