1. Before you leave, make a list of all the places you hope to visit while you’re there. Time goes by faster than you think it will, and you want to make sure you can keep your travel calendar organized.
2. Check your bank account every 1-2 weeks to make sure you’re spending reasonably and that you’ll have enough money to live on.
3. Make copies of your passport to keep in your purse, wallet, or suitcase.
4. During the first week or two, you are most likely going to spend a lot of money on living and cooking supplies, as well as restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.
5. Find a friend who can keep you in check, and vise versa. For people like me who were not used to such extreme independence, it can be hard to keep track of everything.
6. Walk as much as you can, within reason. Not only will it keep you healthy, but it gives you a chance to get outside more and take in the incredible architecture and the interesting people around you.
7. Don’t keep all your money in your wallet. If your wallet gets stolen or lost, you’re going to need some immediate cash. Keep a spare 20-dollar bill in your underwear drawer, or in a backup wallet.
8. Turn off data roaming. You WILL get charged crazy amounts if you don’t.
9. Call your parents once a week, and cut them some slack if they are contacting you more than you would like. Although they don’t know what you’re doing at college, the idea of you being in a foreign country is even scarier.
10. Don’t walk around alone at night.
11. Travel lightly. The less you bring with you, the less you have to lose, and the less you have to lug around.
12. Do things by yourself. It’s really refreshing to spend a day at a museum, in a park, or just walking around alone.
13. Put your phone away more than you do at home. How often are you going to be in X country that you’re in? You don’t need to be texting your friends from home while you’re in one of the most famous museums in the world.
14. Give yourself a lazy day every week. Being abroad can be crazy overwhelming sometimes. Most people go out more nights, stay up later, sleep less, walk around more, travel a lot, and get tired. You need enough energy to do all the activities you want to, and you’re going to have to recharge sometime.
15. Bring vitamins/multivitamins to take to keep your body healthy. Adjusting physically and mentally to a new place can take a toll on your body.
16. Don’t be a complete slacker when it comes to classes. While the classes will probably be easier than the ones at college, you don’t want to go back to school forgetting how to write an essay.
17. Conversely, don’t kill yourself over your work. Serious YOLO when it comes to being abroad. You don’t need to stay in every night and do work. Get things done on time, don’t leave work until the last minute, and don’t skip class because you’re tired, and you’ll be fine. And do all your readings when they are assigned so you don’t have to do them on your flight home from a weekend trip.
18. Remind yourself of where you are and how fortunate you are to be having this experience.