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Advice for your Off – Campus Study

Aleia gives advice for your off campus study adventure!

Aleia gives advice for your off campus study adventure!

Studying abroad is an amazing experience! It’s awesome to travel to a new place, all while still receiving academic credit. There are so many different places you can explore. It’s also important to note that if you do a Carleton College Off Campus Study, then your financial aid will automatically transfer over. This means you will pay around the same tuition abroad as you would in Minnesota! I was able to take advantage of this and study Women and Gender Studies in Europe. Here’s a few tips and tricks that I learned while studying abroad!

Aleia smiles at the East Side Gallery
Aleia smiles at the East Side Gallery.

1. Sometimes Things will go Awry, and that’s Okay! 

Sometimes when you are traveling – things can go a bit awry. Your plane may get delayed, your train may not come on time, and you may forget one of your favorite souvenirs at your old hotel room. While all of these situations are less than ideal, it’s important to remember that these experiences are all part of traveling, and everything will turn out okay. My biggest piece of practical advice is, if you can, pay little extra to have refundable tickets, and read the terms and conditions of your flight. This will ensure that you know exactly what steps you can take if your flight is delayed. 

2. Copy Your Important Documents

When you are studying abroad one of the best things you can do is to expect the unexpected. Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity, and every great opportunity comes with a couple risks. I highly recommend scanning your important documents before taking off. I use the Adobe Scan app on my phone, it’s really easy! This way, if your passport or ID goes missing, you all the information you need to recover a new one. 

Aleia takes a photo in Prague with her iPhone 8.
Aleia takes a photo in Prague.

3. Navigating Jet Lag

Flying for over ten hours to a new time zone can cause you to experience Jet Lag. While some plane-induced drowsiness is unavoidable, there are a couple of ways to shorten your experience with it! My biggest piece of advice is to try to only sleep when it is a “reasonable” time to sleep in your new destination (after 7:00PM). One of the best ways you can also keep yourself awake is by exploring your new destination and enjoying some delicious food to keep you energized! 

Aleia in Utrecht
Aleia Paddles in a Kayak in Utrecht!

4. Lessons with Luggage, Less is More! 

You do not, I repeat, do not, want to have more luggage than you can carry. I know it may seem to be a good idea to bring 200 pairs of shoes for your European adventure, but I beg you, put the heels down! In my opinion, the most you should bring is one large suitcase to check, one small suitcase that acts as a carry-on, and one reasonably sized backpack to be your personal item. You want to be able to carry your luggage anywhere, especially when you are navigating a new train station, bus stop, or airport. 

5. Create a Small, but Functional Wardrobe

Bouncing off of this point, you can still bring less and still be really stylish! Capsule wardrobes are your best friend. This is where you choose clothes that all look good together. I also can’t stress enough the importance of bringing shoes that are comfortable. No matter where you go, you will definitely be walking a lot, and comfortable shoes will help make your experience even more fun!

Aleia in Berlin
Aleia Poses in Berlin.

6. Bring an Old Cell Phone and Budget for a Phone Plan

I would highly recommend talking to your phone provider before you study abroad. This way you can determine if it will be cheaper to get a new phone plan abroad, or buy an international plan. In my case, my phone was still being paid off, which meant that only my USA provider’s SIM card would work. This means I had to use a different phone for my European SIM card. If this is the case with your phone, I would recommend bringing an old cell phone that you can plug a SIM card into, or buying a cheap pre-used phone. I used an old iPhone and it was great! 

7. Your Photos are Priceless 

You’ll see a lot of amazing things when you study abroad. This means you’ll take tons of photos! One of the best pieces of advice that I received before studying abroad was that you will always be able to look up a picture of the Eiffel Tower, but you’ll never be able to look up a funny selfie of your friends and you in front of it. This is why I have always argued that it’s crucial to take goofy pictures in new and exciting places. These photos will hold important memories, which is why it’s crucial to backup these photos. I would highly recommend using Google Photos because it’s free. This is great because if you happen to drop your phone and break it, you can still see all of your amazing photos. Not that I know anything about breaking your phone in a foreign country…

Aleia smiles in Germany
Aleia takes a funny selfie with her friend.

Concluding Thoughts

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity. I highly recommend going on your own Off Campus Study. I hope that these tips and tricks can allow you to feel prepared and ready for your new adventure!

Around campus you’ll find Aleia (she/her/hers) competing on the varsity swim & dive team, dancing in Synchrony II, and crafting (Aleia also up-cycles clothes!). Her favorite spot on campus is the Gould Library (aka “the Libe”) – be sure to ask her which floor is her favorite!