Let’s face it. Your semester abroad will easily be the best semester of college, so how can you make the most of it? Our team here at Rayka has emailed and talked with over 5000 study abroad students, we are launching a study abroad app, and our team members have all studied abroad. So here are a few tips we’ve learned, to help you maximize your semester or summer overseas:
1) Get a Local Experience
One of the highlights of studying abroad is the ability to soak in the local culture. We’ve seen too many students only hanging out with their American friends, going to American restaurants, and leaving without ever discovering the local experience.
We recommend living with a host family if possible, especially if you are in a country that doesn’t speak English and/or cooks local meals. Join a local soccer team. Find a local bar. Befriend some local students– this one is especially easy if you are in a country that speaks a foreign language because tons of international students want to improve their English skills, and there are programs that help to facilitate this interaction.
The point here is that you should try to soak in as much of the local culture as possible, and enjoy the best time in your life to do so!
2) Travel Everywhere, Cheaply
Before you go abroad, you should make a list of all the places you want to see before you head back home. Especially if you are studying abroad in Europe, you won’t have a better time in your life where you can travel anywhere so easily.
Be sure to use airlines like RyanAir and EasyJet for cheap prices (but be sure to only bring carry-on). Use sites like SkyScanner and Hitlist if you have flexible dates or destinations in mind to help you find the cheapest options.
If you are going to more specific destinations, locations, or events, be sure to use Bus2Alps. They can help you get to places like the Amalfi Coast, Oktoberfest etc for less than you can do it on your own- in addition to being with a fun group of other study abroad students.
Our founder went on a Bus2Alps trip to the Amalfi Coast during his semester abroad in Spain and still keeps in touch with friends he made during that weekend. They are great about taking care of all of the transportation and housing details, providing a lower price, and letting you meet other study abroad students.
Regardless of how you travel, your time abroad is the best time in your life to explore freely so definitely make the most of it!
3) Find Great Events
There are so many great events and things to do- you just have to find them! Find some big events or festivals that you can plan a trip for, and find local events or gatherings that can help you make the most of every week. Maybe there is a study abroad app somewhere to find you these events, but at the very least use sites like MeetUp to find smaller events or Google some big festivals that you can put on your calendar.
For example, one of our team members had a poker game at a local bar he would go to on Mondays, a salsa dancing night on Tuesdays (he studied in Spain), and a soccer game for a team he played for on Thursdays. If you’re studying in Florence, go to art events; if you’re in New Zealand, find a weekly hike. Or just plan for larger events and festivals like Oktoberfest, St Patrick’s Day, and more. Either way, events and festivals are a great way to maximize your time abroad.
4) Connect with Other Students
College really is the best time in your life to travel with your friends or fellow students. When you travel, go with a group of students in your program (even if you don’t know them super well) or travel with a lot of college students.
One way to connect with other students is from where you stay. If possible, stay with friends or friends of friends. Or, try to stay in youth hostels where you can meet other students. Even try platforms like CouchSurfing if you’re up for it, which can give you the chance to stay with some younger locals for free. There are other opportunities like trips with your school or organization, or trips with groups like Bus2Alps.
Solo travel is great, but really you can’t have a true study abroad experience without some incredible trips with other college students.
5) Find Places that Other Students Loved
Countless numbers of students comb through Facebook and random Google Drive documents to find the insider tips from people who have already studied abroad, but there is now a better way. Our new study abroad app, Rayka, let’s you see the favorite places and recommendations of past students who studied in that city, letting you more easily find the best restaurants, bars, and nearby towns ideal for college students like yourself.
Is this a shameless plug? You bet. If you’re about to go abroad this fall, stop the endless amount of searching and just use Rayka. We just launched so use our study abroad app to find some great spots and #exploresocially!