Kia ora friends!
If you’re anything like me then the ol’ travel bug is big reason you’re looking into a semester abroad. As I’m now in my fourth month of exchange I thought I’d share some of the top tips I’ve learned along the way for travelling while studying abroad.
#1 Travel before (or after) your semester
In particular, if you’re planning on attending a college in the USA be prepared for the fact that class attendance is often compulsory and weekends are primarily consumed by football games – which you won’t want to miss out on, even if you’re not a football fan! I flew to the United States as soon as I could after UoA exams were finished, to travel through some of the north east USA and Canada and then the west coast – California, Nevada, Arizona. For the USA, I’d recommend travelling the opposite coast to where your host university is situated, as it can be time consuming to get across to during the semester. Also, make sure you know your visa limits when booking flights!
#2 Find your people
I’m a big advocate for breaking out of the exchange student bubble. However, when it comes to wanting to travel every weekend your fellow exchange students will more often than not be the ones most interested. My advice: find a few exchange students that you really click with and start planning early – traveling and planning is far easier in smaller groups and with likeminded people.
#3 Don’t neglect your home base
I thought I’d want to spend every weekend travelling around the states but honestly, I have fallen in love with weekends at UGA and in Georgia. While your host university may be close to many other travel destinations, I would definitely take some time to explore the place you now call home. One of my favorite things about Georgia is that it borders the Great Smoky Mountain region and boasts some impressive day hikes on the Appalachian trail, which I’ve definitely taken advantage of!
#4 Balancing Spontaneity and Planning
The last 4 months have turned me into walking yes. Yes to spontaneity. Yes to opportunity. Yes to travel. Learning how to push past my comfort zone and say yes has led me on some of the greatest adventures of my life thus far. However, what I’ve discovered is that in order to be able to be spontaneous on exchange, planning has to happen before you leave. While I would definitely leave room for spontaneity, my top tip would be to assess the kind of travel that you want to do before leaving NZ and financially plan your priorities, so that you are able to be a ‘yes person’ when the situation arises.
As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions or follow my journey on Instagram (@juliabudler)