1. Eat. And eat a lot.
You’re in a foreign country for goodness sake! Please, please eat as much authentic cuisine as possible. For once it doesn’t matter if you’re breaking your diet, if you had three straight cheat-days in a row, or if the only form of exercise you’ve been getting is strolling leisurely through art exhibits—you have to soak up every delicious, ethnic calorie because no mater how hard you try, you won’t be able to repeat the recipe. And unless you’re rollin’ in the dough, who knows the next time you’ll taste something so fresh and authentic.
2. Do and see everything you can.
If an opportunity to ride in a gondola comes your way, you don’t say no. I repeat. You don’t say no. You’re only in this place for a short period of time, so sit in every chapel pew, walk through every museum, visit every famous grave site, and soak in the beautiful craftsmanship of every sculpture. These are incredible places, views, sites, and art you will remember long after you leave.
3. Take pictures (and selfies!) of and with everything.
Every sunset, every busy street, every food you try, every landscape, and every beautiful thing you see.
4. Try snails…or anything weird, strange, or unique to that specific place.
Half the journey of studying abroad/vacationing in a different country is the opportunities unique to that place. There’s only one London Eye, only one Eiffel Tower, and only one city where you can buy street-cart crepes that melt on your tongue. Being away from home means exploring and trying new things, it means being outside of your comfort zone, and it means being curious. So try snails, try tartare, try cliff jumping with a group of friends. These will be the memories you’ll look back on for years to come.
5. Face your fears.
This goes hand-in-hand with trying new things, but when you’re in a foreign country, you’re often forced to face your fears. This is good. Embrace it. You need to be challenged, you need to feel an adrenaline rush, you need to be both terrified and thrilled as you try something you never thought you would.
And also face your fears on your own. Zip-line, swim in the ocean, ride on the back of a motorcycle, or climb to the tallest window of a tower and overlook the city below. Facing your fears helps you grow, helps you see the world beyond you bubble, and helps you to understand life on a deeper level. (Not to mention you’ll also have fun! Can it get any better?)
6. Spend money and don’t overthink.
Whether for education, for work, or for vacation, you need to indulge when you’re in a different country. This doesn’t mean be flippant and reckless, but it does mean relaxing. It means enjoying. It means you quit counting your coins, let go of material things, and start living. Live for experiences. And spend money, even foolishly at times, because you’re caught up in the moment. Because your experience is incredible and you need to live it rather than stress about it.
7. Enjoy some quiet time.
Not everything you do on your trip needs to be go, go, go. You can take time, you need to take time to relax.
See, do, and eat as much as you can, but also give yourself moments to just absorb. Give yourself alone time to reflect. Give yourself time to breathe. Understand that you are in a different place, and your daily routine is interrupted, but this is a good thing. Force yourself to slow down and enjoy it.