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Study Abroad Europe: Things I Learned in My First 48 Hours

Your carry on luggage has to be a certain weight

I had a carry on tote, a carry on small suitcase, and then a huge suitcase I was checking. My huge suitcase was the right weight, but my carry on luggage also had to be below a certain weight to be able to take it on the plane. I had NO idea about this at all. So naturally I went way over that (I was allowed 12kg total, and my suitcase alone was 11kg) so I had an added fee of $75 that was not anticipated. I’m sure not every airline does this, but it would be worth looking into.


Grocery shopping in another language is NOT easy

I had not expected to have as much difficulty as I did grocery shopping in a different language. Trying to decipher dish soap from hand soap, shampoo from conditioner, and laundry detergent from fabric softener proved to be like hacking some code. Eventually you just buy whatever is cheapest and hope it’s what you need, but I still am unsure what the heck it is I am buying.


A LOT of places do not accept popular American cards

I have a Visa, and only about 50% of the time is it accepted. I have had many panic attacks after dinner when the waitress tells me visa is not accepted, and I have to go to the ATM to pull out cash. Or if you just bought a bunch of groceries and the store doesn’t accept Visa. It is very stressful and such a gamble. So I recommend pulling out cash (not too much, because you don’t want to have a lot on you) and carrying it around just in case, and asking before you buy anything if your card is accepted.


Be smart about public transportation

My first night in the Netherlands I decided to be spontaneous and battle exhaustion by going downtown for dinner with my friend. We literally had been in Maastricht for less than 10 hours and thought we could handle it. Long story short, we could not handle it. We got downtown fine, but we forgot to ask or even look what our bus stop home was called. So we tootled around downtown for awhile before walking back to the bus stop to wait for the bus. A few minutes passed, and we were growing impatient and cold. A bus stopped a few feet down from us at another bus stop but frustrated from jet lag we decided just to get on. Luckily, it was the right bus, but we had no idea if it was or not at the time. So we rode around for 45 minutes, squinting into the darkness attempting to find anything familiar. After thoroughly freaking out and panicking and asking the bus driver repeatedly if he stopped on our street, we made it back. My advice to anyone using public transportation is just to simply know what your stops are and plan ahead


Be mindful of the language

It is a known fact that there is a language barrier abroad. But, occasionally if you are lucky the barrier can be slightly smaller. Most people, especially people working with the public (resturant staff, public transportation etc.) do speak English. This being said, before you ambush this poor European person with your frantic question, ask if they speak English. By asking, they are more prepared to answer your question, and won’t be as irritated at you bombarding them in a language that is not native to them. Your chances of a polite and helpful reply increase dramatically by just simply asking if they speak English.

 – Post written by Maddie

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