Studying abroad is a life-changing experience. I think everyone should try it! When you study abroad, you begin to write a new chapter in the story of your life. You become more independent as you explore unfamiliar places, food, people and cultures. Before leaving for the Netherlands, I didn’t know much about it, other than being familiar with a few large, popular places like Amsterdam. However, I was ready to be away and on my own. Now that I have been here for a bit, here are some tips and tricks that you should know about before studying abroad.
Make sure to know where you are living, and keep in regular contact with the landlord or rental agent. Securing housing can pose a challenge. Consider rent, amenities and, perhaps most important, location! (You don’t want to wind up with a 90 minute commute to your classes each day, and you want to make sure that you can get there easily!)
Exchange Those Dollars
Before leaving for your exciting new destination, make sure to have cash on you. If you are studying in a Eurozone country like I am, I suggest changing $50 to $100 for euros. You will save money on conversion fees this way. If you were to wait to convert your money until you were abroad, for example, 70 euros would cost you $83.69.
Some Places Don’t Take Visa
A lot of people rely on Visa in the U.S. to transfer funds electronically, but I’ve found that it’s not that common throughout Europe. In fact, most restaurants only accept European bank cards such as HSBC Holdings and euros. Plan accordingly.
FlixBus and Ryanair Are Your Best Friends
If you want to travel somewhere new, but don’t want to break the bank on transportation, Flixbus and Ryanair are great options. They can take you to virtually any place you’d like in Europe. The long bus and plane ride may be exhausting, but it’s outweighed by the fact that you can go to your dream location – often for less than $50.
Really. You don’t need to pack everything. Taking more stuff that you’ll need will lead to extra airline fees, and you’ll be stuck lugging your possessions around. Also remember that as you visit different places, you’re bound to buy clothes, other necessities, or gifts. Try to bring only what you’ll need, like your favorite comfy pants and two jackets that can handle all sorts of weather. Then pack the stuff you rely on the most, such as your undergarments and T-shirts. Remember that if you find that you really need something while you’re abroad, you can always find it there.
These tips and tricks are meant to help you figure out what to do before you embark on this life-changing (and mind-blowing) experience. If you follow these guidelines, you should be prepared every step of the way. You may even pick up a few habits that will be helpful when you return to the U.S.
Hasina Foye ’23 is an aspiring journalist from Bronx, N.Y., who is studying English literature and communications at Le Moyne. Hasina is spending the spring semester of 2022 at Hague University in the Netherlands and will be sharing her reflections on life abroad. Please continue to follow her journey here.