People have different preferences for traveling, and you might discover yours while abroad. I realized that I like a combination of going on trips by myself and going with a small group of friends. I enjoyed traveling to places like London, Amsterdam, and Brussels by myself, but I realized that it’s less stressful to have a friend with me. This is because we can look after each other’s stuff at places like the airport. They can also help in researching sites to visit as well as how to get there. My travel buddies were my friends from China and South Korea that I met during my time in Liverpool. I was also fortunate that my friend from UT was studying in Edinburgh, Scotland at the same time I was in England!
Since I lived on campus, I was able to take part in trips organized by the residence halls for a discounted price. I went to Cambridge, The Beatles Story museum, and the Lake District on these trips and enjoyed meeting new people. A bonus of studying in the UK is that the universities’ spring breaks tend to last longer than in the US. Mine was three weeks long, and I traveled for almost all of that. While I got to see some great places in Italy, Greece, Scotland, and Ireland, it was also exhausting! I went with some friends on student tours in Scotland and Ireland. In Ireland I came down with strep throat and had to go to an urgent care center. My international insurance through UTD really came in handy here, because I was able to get reimbursed me for the medical care that I needed.
When traveling around Europe, I tried to plan things ahead of time to save money. Train tickets in the UK especially are less expensive if you buy them online and in advance. The catch is that you have to buy them for a specific time, which can be stressful if you’re not good at being early. I used a website called the Trainline to look at train times and prices throughout the UK, which is a great resource. In addition, when I flew on planes I always figured out how to get from the airport to my accommodation in advance. It can be disorienting when you’re in a place for the first time and have to navigate the public transportation there. One thing I learned from staying in England is to always pack an umbrella, because it can rain at any time!
When I first began to travel, I went to London for the weekend and came up with a long list of things I wanted to do there. I ended up packing too many things into my schedule and felt exhausted. As a result of a few trips like this, I realized that it’s not about the quantity of places I visit, but the experience. I began to appreciate the places I was able to see. It is okay to leave things “for next time,” even if that I might not get to visit again. Traveling is about enjoying whatever you get to see, and not about trying to shove everything you can into your agenda. After incorporating this idea, I felt less stressed out and was able to enjoy my travels more in some amazing cities.
– Esther Goldstein, exchange program, University of Liverpool, Spring 2017