Living abroad inspires you to travel. It educates you on new places and cultures through the places you visit and the people you meet. Since moving to Scotland, I’ve gained a heightened respect for other cultures, as I’ve spoken to many different people from around the world. The people you meet abroad are reason alone to travel – I now have connections throughout Europe, the United States, Mexico, and even Dubai. These are people I’ve met while studying and working in Aberdeen, but also through travelling. Luckily, travelling while abroad is incredibly easy, even on a student budget.
Below are some of my top reasons to travel while abroad:
Most Canadians will understand how expensive it is to travel outside Canada. Flights to Europe, Asia, Australia, etc. are long and expensive journeys. It’s also not cheap to travel within Canada. I’m often embarrassed to admit that I’ve only seen Toronto and Montreal. But living in the UK is another story. Affordable airlines, trains, and busses make it cheap and easy to travel to nearby countries and within the UK.
Learning about new cultures
I believe it’s extremely important to have an understanding of different cultures while living abroad. Travelling offers an opportunity to step outside your individual experience and learn about other people and lifestyles. Just yesterday, I bought a “Polish for Dummies” book. One of my close friends is from Poland and we’re planning to visit Warsaw together this summer.
Bond with friends – or yourself
Travelling with friends can be a great bonding experience. You’ll create memories together that you can share long into the future. It also gives you something fun to anticipate and plan as a team.
Travelling alone can also be an enriching experience. If you’ve never travelled by yourself, I recommend doing it at least once. I travelled to Barcelona for five days in December before heading home to Toronto for the holidays. This was my first experience vacationing alone. It felt lonely at first, but this trip quickly became one of my favourite vacations. Travelling alone pushes you WAY out of your comfort zone. I rented a room in an Airbnb apartment and filled my days and evenings with activities around the city. I spoke to so many new people, and even made a couple new friends, simply by pushing myself to venture into the city and interact with others. This is an independence you can only gain on your own.
I love when people compliment my sweater and I get to respond with: “Thanks, I bought it in Barcelona!” In all seriousness, travelling gives you new perspectives and ideas that you can bring to conversations with your friends and family – just try not to make them too jealous!
Travelling has taught me several useful hacks for navigating an enjoyable (and affordable) student vacation:
We’ve all used Airbnb for affordable rooms, apartments, and houses. But did you know the website also offers “experiences?” I discovered this section by accident while booking my room for Barcelona. The concept is the same as booking an accommodation, except it’s used for events and excursions instead. Airbnb experiences are posted by locals who offer unique activities at affordable prices. You can sign up for tours, hikes, bike rides, dance lessons, live music, wine tastings – the list goes on. I signed up for both a hike and coffee tasting in Barcelona, which helped me learn more about the city and meet new friends.
- Budget flights:
Cheap airlines are great because, well, they’re cheap. But these airlines are cheap for a reason. Always pack your own snacks, as they do not provide free on-flight food. Also, bring an empty water bottle to fill for the flight once you’ve passed through security.
- Travel in the off-season:
I travelled to Barcelona during the city’s off-season for tourism, which I believe made all the difference in my experience. My hike and coffee tasting only included one other person in each event; this is the reason I connected with people so quickly. Off-seasons attract fewer crowds, making it easier to travel to popular locations. Also, you avoid being lumped in with hordes of tourists.
I believe it’s beneficial to immerse yourself in new cultures while studying abroad. Take every opportunity to travel while you’re here, as there’s no greater moment to experience the world than right now. To begin your global adventure, please contact one of our ATP advisors.