STA Travel offers discounted travel to students, as well as a multitude of information on international travel. Here are a few useful tips from them to help you get started planning your study abroad journey.
Get an International Student ID Card (ISIC).
This little card is only $22, but it will save you $100s all over the world. For starters, use it to get foreign currency at the airport commission free! ISIC will also save you money on sightseeing, restaurants, museum admission, movies, and more! Use it online at Target.com and Apple Store, too!
Set a Weekly Budget.
You'll open a bank account locally. Whether you plan to live off your debit card or want to mostly use cash, decide a set amount of money to spend the first few weeks. That will help you get used to the value of the foreign currency compared to what you're used to spending at home. Then you can adjust accordingly and will have a good handle on budgeting for the time you're there.
Consider buying a monthly bus or subway (Underground, Metro) pass! Most public transportation, especially in Europe, is highly efficient and you'll love it. Otherwise, just walk. Just remember that cabs can get really expensive if that's all you're taking.
Protect Your Stuff
Keep your passport and other important documents safely hidden. You're staying put for a while so you don't need to carry this stuff around. Also, study abroad students will have an ID of some sort from the university they're going to. Between that and your ISIC, you're covered.
Don't buy all of your souvenirs when you first get there. You'll be in the country for a while and have plenty of time to shop. Plus, you'll want to buy souvenirs while you travel.
Talk to other people in your program and get tips from them on what to do. They might know the cheapest place to get your laundry done, eat good food, use the Internet, etc.
Bring pictures of family and friends that you can look at whenever you get homesick. It will happen occasionally and having pictures to look at will help it pass.
CEA Global Education has partnered with STA Travel to enhance our students' study abroad experience.Read more about CEA's partnership with STA Travel.
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2. Shanghai Postal Service Museum. The Shanghai Postal Services Museum offers more than just a history lesson on the Chinese postal system. (Whew!) The architecture of this grand 1930s building is quite impressive; especially the newly renovated atrium. But the real highlight of your visit will be the rooftop garden. This 75-year-old rooftop features one of the coolest clock towers in Shanghai and some of the most remarkable views of the city. You can see both sides of the Huangpu River: Suzhou Creek, Pudong, and the Bund.
3. Nanxiang Town. With a rich 1,500-year history, this tucked away gem offers the sparkle of a Ming Dynasty Garden and a reconstructed Buddhist Temple. Don’t leave without trying a tasty steamed dumpling!
4. Moganshan St. Art Galleries. This street was once lined with old factory workshops and warehouses, but today it is home to beautiful art galleries, exhibition rooms, and even theaters. It's an ideal place to meet modern, independent freelance artists and browse their work.
5. Qipu Road Market. Not sure what to bring home from your travels? This is the place to shop for souvenirs for all your friends and family! Everything is negotiable, giving this market the nickname, “Cheap Roead.” With dozens of small shops and stands to browse, you are sure to find something your friends will ooh and ah over for years to come.
Read more from our study abroad newsletter, All Abroad.
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|Vicki Brooks and friends visit the Guinness Factory in Dublin|
Long story short, I happened to find two other lost-looking girls who were with CEA, and we eventually met up with one of our on-site CEA mentors, Brian, who gave us bus tickets to get to Galway. After a slightly-less-than-two-hour bus ride down winding road and through stone-walled pastures, we finally arrived in Galway, and were met by Monica, our other on-site advisor, who put us in a taxi headed for Gort na Coiribe apartments, gave us room keys, and instructed us to meet her outside the gate of the apartments the next morning for our school orientation, followed that afternoon by a walking tour of the city centre and dinner - graciously paid for by CEA.
After arriving, I explored the apartment, unpacked, and walked around the complex grounds before my roommate arrived. After she unpacked, the two of us, along with one of the girls I’d come into town with, went to the Dunnes grocery store across the roundabout from our apartments, where we bought basic food and necessities — milk, bread, soup, coffee, tea, and an umbrella. It was here that we had our first “foreigner” experience; we did not know that you are charged for shopping bags in Ireland, and that most people bring their own, and couldn’t help but laugh as we carried armfuls of groceries back across the roundabout in the rain.
|Shop Street in Galway, Ireland|
When you arrive at your destination, the best thing you can do is stay optimistic and positive, and be open to the things you see around you. There is no way to predict exactly what will happen upon your arrival, and, as we all know, there are many things that can go wrong (lost bags, flight delays, etc.) But, if you keep a positive attitude, despite being exhausted and covered in the wonderful smells of travel, it will make your day a whole lot easier.
As far as Do’s and Don’ts:
• Plan ahead when packing—make sure you check the weather for the day of your arrival and pack for it.
• Be friendly to your CEA group and locals. I met some of my best friends while studying abroad, and you’ll probably never get another chance like it.
• Be aware of yourself and the way you depict yourself. Don’t be the “Ugly American.”
• Take in as much of the experience as you can, and do as much as you can while you’re there.
• Remember why you wanted to study abroad in the first place. What did you want to learn or experience?
• Keep an open mind to new experiences.
• Have FUN!
• Make assumptions that things will be the way they are where you’re from. If that were true, why would you go abroad in the first place?
• Shut down things that are radically different from what you know.
• Be afraid to try new things — every city in the world has something that is unique to it, whether it’s food, people, sights, or experiences.
• Be afraid to ask questions. The people around you will be more than happy to tell you about or show you their country. Just make sure that you’re willing to take whatever answer they give you with criticism.
If you let it, studying abroad can be one of the most enriching and amazing experiences you’ll have in your life.
Since I've left Ireland, I have traveled to Wales, where I met up with the two amazing women I met in Galway. I also have been fortunate enough to go back to Ireland while traveling in the UK and Ireland with my boyfriend. Studying abroad made me aware of an interest I have in western cultures, has had a huge impact on my career plans, and has helped to shape me into the person I am today.
Vicki Brooks is a CEA alumni from Summer 2008.