Study Abroad in Europe: 7 Tips from My Experience

Are you gearing up for your semester or year of study abroad? Are you almost ready to go, but have that feeling in your stomach that you forgot something? Or maybe you’re all-packed, but want one last checklist to be 100% sure.

Well look no further – you’ve found your answer!

I recently studied abroad in the Fall of 2022, and the tips I’ll provide below are things that I realized once I was in Europe and it was too late to go back. This is my list of things I wish I knew before I went to study abroad, and I hope that it helps you to maximise your experience and minimise any hassle or worries before you get there.

My 7 Europe Study Abroad Survival Tips

After studying abroad for a semester and travelling every weekend, I want to help others to optimise their own study abroad or travel experiences by avoiding mistakes I made and avoiding lots of other small challenges I faced. So without further ado, here are my 7 survival tips for study abroad:

1. Bring a good European & UK adapter for your charger!

I know this sounds obvious, but before you go, check if your device chargers fit properly into the European adapter. My large Macbook charger fell out of my adapter every time I plugged it in, so you want to be sure that it fits tight so you don’t have that problem.

2. Bring a duffel bag or big backpack for travelling

Yes, flights are cheap! RyanAir & Vueling are great airline options with low fares, but if you don’t have a big enough backpack or duffel bag, you might find yourself without enough baggage space for weekend trips. Also bonus points if you get a body satchel for walking around when you’re touring new cities!

3. Bring a reusable water bottle

When you’re travelling from city to city, you’re always gonna need water. Whether you’re walking through the streets of Spain or waiting in the airport lounge in Paris, having a reusable water bottle handy saves you 3-5 euros when you get thirsty. Trust me, I bit that bullet too many times and it adds up FAST .

Pack a reusable water bottle, empty it before the security line at the airport, and refill it once you’re in the terminal at one of their water fountains. The water bottle that I’ve had for 7 years now and carried around Europe with me was a Hydro Flask. It’s reliable, holds a lot of water and keeps water cold.

Don’t waste money buying vending machine water in every city or airport you visit. Oh, and onboard those low fare airlines? No free water either.

4. Get a local data plan

I have T-Mobile in the US which allows me to roam in Europe with speeds up to 256kbps, but I found that to be too slow when on the go. In Spain, a Vodafone sim card with 50GB of data and unlimited calls was only 15€ for 28 days with much better data speeds and calling capabilities too. Definitely worth it.

5. Check which of your credit cards work!

As college students, let’s be real – oftentimes we’re not the most financial savvy. Before I got to Europe, one of my biggest concerns was not having enough money. I didn’t know what credit cards were widely accepted, how I would be able to withdraw Euros to pay for things in cash, or which credit cards charged transactions fees.

Go on your credit card company’s website. Call your bank. Talk to a friend that’s been to Europe before with the same credit card as you. Find out which card works with no fees and don’t bring too much cash.

6. Make friends in your classes!

I know this seems obvious, but trust me, classes are different in Europe and you’ll want to have the support. I direct-enrolled in La Universidad de Sevilla which means I took classes alongside local Spanish students in Spanish, and I found that their note taking style was different, and of course their notes are better because they can understand the professor better since they’re native speakers. They know how to pass the classes, so make the effort to make friends to help you out.

7. Check the temperature differences BEFORE you get to Europe

If you’re like me, and will be based in Sevilla, it’ll be hot for a lot of the time from August to November, and get down to about 10°C/50°F in the early mornings and nights in December. But if you plan to travel to Paris or Amsterdam in the late Fall for example, it’ll be pretty cold. You don’t wanna find yourself without a jacket in -1°C/30°F weather when you want to go to Paris or without a swimsuit when you want to visit Ibiza.

And that’s it!

If you or anyone you know is planning to study abroad or travel in Europe for an extended period of time for the first time, send them this list or even put them in touch with me. I loved every second of my experience, and I’d love to do whatever I can to make your experience better still.

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