The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying Abroad for a Spring Quarter/Semester in Europe

  • Don’t overpack– Learn to pack smart for 10+ weeks abroad. Packing light is the best and most comfortable way to go when you’re abroad. It makes a big difference especially when you want to be traveling around from city to city. You’ll be surprised to find that shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and all other basic necessaries are scattered throughout corner shops and convenient stores for affordable prices. Chartered airlines (Ryanair, Easyjet, GermanWings, etc.) also charge a fee for each checked bag and they measure the weight to determine the cost (up to a 99€ euro penalty fee for an overweight bag). I was able to fit three months worth of clothes and essentials in 1 bag pack that weighed 40lbs/20Kilos. I went shopping for a bag pack online and in stores and most of them were $150+. So I turned to online auction shopping through eBay. I bought a gently used an Eagle Creek Travel Bagpack with a detachable day pack and a rain fly travel bag for only $20! When you’re packing your socks, undies, and pajamas, use a compression bag and packing cubes. I found some on eBay and amazon for less than $8 and that freed up more space for a second pair of comfy shoes and sandals.
    • My packing list:
      • Travel Documents (Passport, Passport photo copy, UCLA Student ID, Travel Insurance Card, and flight documents)
      • 1 Travel BagPack with a detachable day pack (Eagle Creek Luggage)
      • 2 Jeans, 6 button up/polos, 4 white tees, 12 sets of underwear, and 15 pairs of socks
      • 1 Sweater, 1 Cold Weather Jacket, 2 Scarfs, 1 pair of cold weather gloves (Europe is not as warm as LA coastal weather)
      • 1 pair of comfy walking shoes, 1 pair of dress up boots, and 1 pair of rainbow sandals
      • Laptop and Laptop Case
      • 4 Pens and 4 Pencils
      • 2 toothbrushes, 1 travel size toothpaste, 1 bar of soap, 1 nail clipper,
      • 1 DSLR Camera, 2 128 GB memory Cards, 1 Small travel tripod
      • 1 Smartphone, 1 charger, 1 portable battery charger
      • 1 waterbottle
      • Gifts for host family & professors (LA Hollywood Postcards, 6 Thank you cards, and 3 Chocolate boxes)
  • Don’t bring so much of your cash – Try requesting atlas 300€ from your US bank at least 1 month before your trip. You’ll save on the currency exchange fees and you’ll be happy that you arrive with some euros in hand at the airport. Don’t plan on bringing so much US $. The currency exchange at the airport and tourist locations can be pricey. The best way to get some money in Europe is to bring debit and credit cards. The ATMS accept US debit/credit cards and give you the best currency exchange of the day. I would highly suggest getting a debit/credit card from a bank that doesn’t charge travel fees. My number #1 recommendation is the Bank of America Travel Rewards Card with zero travel credit card fees.
  • Do bring your laptop and smartphone – There’s so much to do when you’re walking around exploring the new cities. However, everyone gets those sick days and the best thing to do is watch some netflix and chat with your friends/family from home. I used my laptop for uploading photos, updating my travel blog, and writing all of my college study abroad essays. Bringing my smartphone was amazing. My phone plan from T-Mobile gave me unlimited data and text and no extra charge without having to change my sim card when I was in Europe! I was using my smartphone for google maps, trip advisor, etc.
  • Do plan, schedule your outings – You’ll be overwhelmed with the tons of different places to eat at and visit while you’re in Europe. Planning is extremely important so that you get the cheapest prices for airfare and entry, and make the reservations for places that get booked early. I came up with a short list of places I wanted to visit while I was in Europe. This gave me ample time to buy cheap airfare from Ryanair, get the cheapest reservation tickets, and book as many places/things to see on my list.
  • Don’t eat at tourist spots – Food will be your biggest expense when traveling. I recommend eating at the non tourist spots to save money during lunch/dinner. You can tell right away when a restaurant or cafe is catered towards tourists because it is usually priced with convertible dollars and with English/Spanish/Chinese translations instead of the euro. Please use TimeOut Travel and TripAdvisor before you eat anywhere. TimeOut Travel was my most trusty food, sightseeing, and entertainment go to website for all the cities I visited.