When I was first researching study abroad and serving abroad opportunities for this summer, I discovered a Service-Learning Opportunity in Galway, Ireland. I was very excited and intrigued by the opportunity because I have always wanted to visit Ireland, but there was one thing holding me back, which was the fact that I had never traveled abroad before. I was nervous and afraid that I was not going to be able to adjust to living here for a whole month. Once I arrived, my fears seemed to have disappeared. Now I am wishing I was here for more than just a month because I am already in week two and realizing how fast this experience is going to go by. As a first time abroad traveler, I want to give you six key tips of how to travel and adjust to become a successful traveler.
- Make sure to do your research when packing! Learn the culture, look up what the typical people wear, and be sure to check the weather. I’m in Ireland, so a raincoat and semi-waterproof shoes are a staple of the dress here. Doing your research will both make you seem and feel like an experienced traveler.
- Go with the flow when traveling. If your flight gets delayed, don’t panic; if you have a connecting flight, be sure to ask someone if you will be able to make it. I know as a first time abroad traveler it is hard not to panic, but it is the best way to ensure you will get to where you need to go.
- Go into your experience with an open mind. I am participating in a Service-Learning program so when I arrived I made sure to have no expectations. Even though I was worried about everything because it was all so new, I just pushed down all my concerns and had to think, “They are not a problem until they happen.”
- Be willing to make friends with everyone. This is key. I fortunately got to take this trip with my best friend, but one of the reasons I have had such a great time is because I have made relationships with people in my program and with locals. Allowing myself to branch out has allowed me to make friendships with people who I would have not known if not for this experience.
- PARTICIPATE! Even though you may have reservations or be tired, I would advise you to go. This is the one piece of advice that I would encourage everyone to take. Although you pay extra to add on optional excursions, they are totally worth the money. I just recently got to go to the Aran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and they were both worth every penny! You’ll get to see places and things you never would have expected.
6. Be willing to adapt into the culture, you will have more fun that way. I found out that going with the flow of the host community allows you to really adapt into your new culture. By doing this, I feel as though I am able to be a contributing member of the society and not just a tourist.
With these tips, you will be able to appreciate and take in all the experiences and lessons that come with traveling abroad!
The world awaits…discover it.