If you’re preparing to study abroad, don’t do what I did and make a list of pretty much every single country in Western Europe and say, “these are all the places I want to visit.” That’s unrealistic, and unless the person reading this is Rockefeller himself, it’s not affordable either.
That being said, you can manage to travel to a lot of places while abroad in Europe. You just have to prepare yourself for the fact that there is never enough money and never enough time to do absolutely everything you want to do.
What I Wish I Knew: Every time you blink while studying abroad, time actually fast-forwards a week. True story.
Five months seems like a really long time when you’re getting on a plane to another continent, but once you’re there, time flies by. Here I am, over two months into my abroad program, about to embark on trips I planned weeks ago that seemed years away when I booked them.
At the end of January, I booked my first set of trips outside London, and I decided that I should try and stay in London every other weekend until classes end. That brought ten weekends down to five right from the start. But one weekend was right before all my midterms were due and another was reserved for when my mom visits, which brought me to four weekends and four trips.
I am so thrilled that I’m going to get to take four trips before classes even end, but given that classes go for three months of my five-month program, four sounds sort of measly. However, I’m here to tell you that it’s not.
There is a lot of pressure when studying abroad in Europe to go absolutely everywhere, but then you look at your calendar and your bank account and realize that there is no way that is happening, despite everyone you know on social media looks like they’re visiting somewhere new every other day. Spoiler alert: That is just optics. In actuality, everyone is just trying to make the most of the time and money they have, and it is totally okay to stay in your home city for a few weekends in a row to explore or even just to relax.
Before I left for abroad, I was most nervous about missing the opportunity to hit every country on my pre-made list. I wish I’d known going in that this was an unrealistic goal. Instead, it’s honestly more fun to stay somewhere longer rather than try to cram a million trips into one. Plus, any time I get to spend in London is well spent, and I would say that goes for any city in which you’re studying. There’s really no bad major European city to call home.
There may never be enough time and never enough money to do everything, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the absolute most of the time and money I’ve got.