Preparing for international travel can be overwhelming, especially for students making thier first trip abroad. In addition to the advice offered to all travelers, such as registering with the Consul or Ambassador, traveling in pairs, etc. we offer to you some advice from student travelers.
5 - Research the weather for each region you plan to travel. Some areas are quite chilly, even during summer months. As Michael L., University of Florida Law Student, explains, “Know the weather of the places that you will be traveling to and pack accordingly. Places like Scotland have horrible weather even at this time of year (June).” Michael’s family has a tradition of sending their college graduates to Europe for a summer, and he found this advice particularly helpful for traveling the vast climatic changes afforded in Europe.
4 - Pack only the essentials. Pack conservative clothing. You simply will not need the wardrobe you are accustomed to in America. Emily S., a 15 year old student who visited her sister in Germany June 2010, tells us, “Do not bring more luggage than you need. I brought some stuff that I'm probably not even going to wear, everyone wears clothes over and over again in europe, just the basics is what you really need.” You want to be able to travel quickly and easily, unencumbered by hefty quantities of luggage.
3 - Get a pocket guide. No more worrying about big fold out maps to get about. Now you can manage with smaller pocketguides which give you much more information. Or download a free app from http://www.hostelworld.com/pdf-guides.php.
2 - Learn about the culture of each country and city to avoid “shock”. For example, Suzi M., FL, USA, traveled to Europe when she was 15. She was completely unaware of what the Red Light district in Holland was, “Prostitutes in windows, pornography everywhere, drugs etc. I have to say I was very overwhelmed by it all.” That’s not to say all sense of “shock” will be eradicated, but you will be better prepared in your response, and not appear so much as an American tourist. Marby, an American living in England for over four years, tells us another cultural aspect needing research are expressions and hand gestures. For example, some American expletives are completely acceptable amongst international societies. Likewise, some acceptable phrases in America are insulting and degrading in other countries. A common gesture of goodwill in the States is the two-fingered peace sign. In many European countries, the gesture is the antithesis of peace, and equivalent to the American “middle finger”, as is “thumbs up” in some Latin countries.
1 - Moderate your alcohol consumption. In most European countries, the legal drinking age is 18, and in some it is 16. In most European countries, if a parent or guardian serves the alcohol, the age is even lower, sometimes even in single digits. German-native Aslaug O. writes, “I don´t think I´ve ever been asked my age even when I was young.” With this newfound access to alcohol, students may be tempted to “go lush”. Don’t. Not only is public drunkenness frowned upon in many European circles, it is a green light for predators. Aslaug continues, “Always a good idea to not pour down too much....the big [European] cities have lots of `pickpockets`.” Pickpocketing is the least of worries when it comes to criminal minds. Be safe. Don’t intoxicate abroad.
Keeping these tips in mind when preparing for and while traveling will help you be safe and have fun.
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