Check out the travel video that goes with this blog: https://vimeo.com/207025110.
A little over one month ago, I left the comfort of my University in Waco, Texas to fly across the pond and start school at Maastricht University for three months. I wasn’t sure what to expect before I left for the trip—I talked with other students, who had been on the same program before, to try to get an idea of what life abroad would be like. After one month of traveling, I have a little more experience and skills. Below are the main ideas that I try to remember during my travels.
- Be flexible
You will make plans. Yes, those plans will work out sometimes. Yes, those plans will change sometimes. For our traveling in Europe, I am a big planner. I love to help plan the trips to make sure we aren’t missing anything and making the most of our time there. That being said, being flexible for our weekend trips has not come naturally to me, but it is a skill that I am still learning. If your first plan doesn’t work or plans change, you need to learn how to be flexible and just “go with the flow” of things. Getting lost in the streets of Europe can be just as fun too.
- Do the research
Being flexible is important in traveling, but that doesn’t mean to wing all of your travels. Before you visit a new city, research it. Look up the history behind it. Look up the best sights to see. That way when you get there you can make the most of your time and not forget to do or see something in the city. Even if these plans don’t work out, you can still be flexible with them and see other sights or activities on your list.
- Pack light
There is no room to pack extra things while you travel. Packing light is hard to get used to at first (re-wearing many shirts) but you’ll eventually learn what to pack and what to leave behind.
- Enjoy the moment and your scenery
Sometimes the best moment is to just appreciate the time and place you’re in. For me, there have been so many reminders for myself that I’m living in Europe: on my way to school if it’s raining and I have a quiz to prepare for—I try to put it in perspective and remember where I am and how fortunate I am to have this opportunity. If I’m in the train doing homework, I try to look out the window every now and then and appreciate the serene scenery of the outside flying fast behind us. Whether it’s the small sheep being herded, the miniature horses eating grass in a field, or the shimmering canals through the Netherlands, I always try to take time and appreciate what is around me. I do take pictures of the scenery, but I also leave time to just appreciate what is in front of me instead of rushing to the next scene.
- Don’t panic if plans go wrong
There will be a time where you miss a train. I didn’t think I would miss one if I was on top of the schedules of the trains, and I would only miss it if I wasn’t paying attention. This is only true to an extent. Trains will be delayed, which affects your connections. Be sure to pay attention to which station your train leaves from too—there can be several stations in one city, so be sure to check that you’re at the right one. During our time in Barcelona, we didn’t realize that we had to change train stations in Madrid (to catch our night train to Portugal), so we came close to missing our night train. One metro ride to a different station later, we barely made our night train. If you miss a train, try not to panic. You will be able to find a train back home; it might not be your first choice, but you will be able to make it back.
I have learned so much in this past month of being in Europe. These are the main points of what I have learned throughout my travels and there are many more to come. Remember to enjoy each experience that you have while traveling because it will go by so fast!
Hey y’all! I’m Anna and am a Sophomore Marketing and Management major at Baylor University! I will be studying abroad in the Netherlands this semester, where I will be taking History, Art, and Brand Management classes. I’m looking forward to exploring all of the new countries I’m going to travel to (I’ve never been to Europe before) and seeing the History around me as I learn it this semester. I’m so excited for this opportunity to share with you what I will be experiencing.