7 Tips to Travel more during your Study Abroad Program

7 Tips to Travel more during your Study Abroad Program

Studying Abroad might be the best time of your life. However, it may be hard to juggle a new environment, making friends, socialising ánd travelling all at the same time. Last year, I studied abroad and immensely enjoyed this new experience. In this post, I’ll tell you how to travel more during your study abroad program.

My study abroad experience

First of all, let me quickly summarise my study abroad experience. During the Autumn Term of 2017, I studied at the University of Warwick on a study abroad program. The University of Warwick is a UK university based in Coventry. I’m from the Netherlands myself, so the United Kingdom was not very far away. However, a few years ago I fell in love with the UK. Therefore, I didn’t hesitate where I wanted to study: I immediately knew I wanted to study in the UK when I got the chance.

During my study abroad program, I tried to immerse myself as much as I could in the UK university culture and joined lots of societies. I even joined a sports team while I hadn’t exercised properly in a few years. Besides that, I studied very hard as well and was applying for Master’s programs at the same time. Moreover, almost every week I did a day trip to a place in the UK. Did I sleep? Well, probably too little, but sleep is for the weak!

7 Tips to travel more during your Study Abroad program

1. Pick your university wisely

So you want to travel more during your study abroad program? Firstly, it’s important to look at the university where you would like to study. The university you have in mind may look great, but if it’s completely in the middle of nowhere, it won’t be easy to travel often. Therefore you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is your exchange university close to an airport? (Especially important if you wish to explore the continent you’re studying.)
  2. Is the university located in a big city or in the countryside?
  3. Is the university located in a part of the country (or continent) that has a lot to offer for travellers?
View of London from the Shard
View of London from the Shard

My top three universities for my exchange program were the University of Exeter, the University of Durham, and the University of Warwick. In the end, I picked the University of Warwick as my first choice. Part of the reason for this was because of its location in the middle of the UK, which allowed me to visit a large area of the UK by bus and train.

If you’re not from Europe, London would be your perfect city in the UK: the city itself has lots to offer, there are multiple airports, and it’s very well connected with the rest of the country. Moreover, it has many universities with a good reputation.

2. To travel more during your study abroad program you don’t need to travel far

Since I’d not picked a university on a different continent, I didn’t plan to visit other European countries. Instead, I wanted to focus more on travelling in the United Kingdom. I bought a travel guide to England and spend a lot of my time on google, and discovered many places that were near my university and were worth a visit.

Travelling to towns closer to your university allows you to go off the beaten path more and to discover ‘hidden gems’. Moreover, travelling in the country of your exchange university is probably cheaper than flying to a different country (and it’s better for the environment!). It will also likely take less time. For example, a train from Coventry to Oxford takes just 45 minutes. Perfect for a day trip!

The Divinity School in Oxford
The Divinity School in Oxford

Moreover, if you’re studying in a beautiful city (such as Edinburgh) or at a beautiful university (such as Oxford or Cambridge), take advantage of this as well! Go on a walk after class and explore a different part of the city. If you’re studying at a beautiful university, make sure to visit the university buildings even if it’s not your faculty and pick the most beautiful places to study.

3. Planning is key: Make time for travelling ánd for other activities

It’s important not to make travelling your single goal. One of the greatest joys of travelling is getting to know ‘the locals’ and the local customs. Therefore, try to engage in activities at your university as well and get to know people: exchange students and students from the country you’re studying in. Don’t be shy and sign up for several societies.

However, having a busy social agenda might make it impossible for you to travel. Therefore, try to find the right balance and plan time for travelling. For example, if you’ve joined a sports club that has a training on Sunday, keep your Saturday free for travelling.

The Roman Baths in Bath
The Roman Baths in Bath

4. Join tours organised by your university

Many universities offer day tours for exchange students. Often, these tours are inexpensive and only include a coach transfer. This enables you to explore the city or other attraction at your own pace. Moreover, you can go together with your study abroad friends!

Another advantage of joining day tours is that they’ll enable you to visit cities that aren’t easily accessible by public transport. When I was studying at the University of Warwick, I joined day tours to Oxford, Bath, and Bristol. From Warwick, Bath would have been a long journey by public transport with multiple changes. With a coach that departed from the university, it was a direct coach!

Bristol
Bristol

5. Visit the countryside

This 5th tip may sound like an odd one. Why should you visit the countryside? Well, if you want to travel more during your study abroad program, you should also diversify the places you’re travelling to. The countryside nearby your university will give you absolutely different experiences from the big cities.

Thomas Oken Tea Rooms in Warwick
Thomas Oken Tea Rooms in Warwick

For example, I visited Warwickshire and the towns Stratford-upon-Avon (the birthplace of Shakespeare), and Warwick as well. In Warwick, I had amazing cream tea and afternoon tea at Thomas Oken Tea Rooms. I’d never had cream tea or this type of afternoon tea before, and it was a great experience. Moreover, Warwick was extremely cute and felt like an episode of Midsomer Murders.

6. Stay after your term has ended

When you’re studying abroad, there’ll likely be a holiday at the end (or during) your study. Take advantage of the Christmas or summer holiday to travel more during your study abroad program. During these periods, it’ll be easier to go further than day trips or short weekend trips.

Ask your university or landlord whether it’s possible to rent your room for a longer time, or ask friends if you can leave some of your stuff at their place to be able to travel without having to drag all your belongings with you.

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle

Therefore, I embarked upon a 2-day trip to North Wales after my term had ended. I stayed only one night in Wales, but it was enough to catch a glimpse of this beautiful country. If you’re studying in the UK, Scotland is another country that’s the perfect place to discover during the Christmas or summer holiday.

7. Try to save as much as possible the year before your exchange

If you want to travel more during your study abroad program, it’s very important to start saving as soon as possible. Studying abroad will cost you a lot of money: accommodation, flights, social activities, food, and probably a lot more. If you’d like to travel as well, you’ll need to have some money left on your bank account.

Tip: Sleeping in hostels while travelling will save you a lot of money! Take a look at these great hostels in Central London. I always use Hostelworld to book my hostels.
Cambridge
Cambridge

Luckily, there are bursaries available for exchange students. Inform at your university if your university or country offers bursaries for students that are studying abroad.

BONUS TIP: Travel to a cheaper country

You’d like to travel more during your study abroad program, but you’re worried about the financial side? Why not pick a university in a cheaper country? For example, Eastern Europe has a lot to offer and is way cheaper than Western Europe. Your food and accommodation will be cheaper, so you’ll have more money left to travel. This way, you can visit cities like London, Rome, and Paris during a weekend trip.

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7 tips to travel more during your Study abroad program 7 tips to travel more during your Study abroad program

4 Replies to “7 Tips to Travel more during your Study Abroad Program”

  1. My one regret from college (or maybe in life) is that I did not do a study abroad program. So glad to hear that you made the most of your opportunity.

  2. Great tips! I studied abroad on Reunion Island (amazing) and in France and it was such an amazing year. Bristol is also a really good UK university to base yourself 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  3. These are such great tips! One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I didn’t stay around Reykjavik after my study abroad term there ended – I even changed my flight and went home earlier than planned, to be with my boyfriend back home again. Needless to say, he is not my bf any longer – but who’s gonna give me back that extra time in Iceland now? I hope everyone enjoys their time abroad and maximises the experience!! Thanks for sharing!

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