The funny thing about my study abroad experience in Europe is that I spent a lot of time feeling homesick while I was there, but now that I’m back, I miss it more and more every day. Being introduced to European culture comes with some pretty big culture shock, but you never seem to really appreciate all the little things about your experience until you’re back home and something feels missing. If you’ve ever studied abroad in Europe, indulge with me as I recount the top four things I miss about this beautiful continent.
1. Student Perks
Having a few bucks knocked off your movie theater ticket seemed pretty sweet to me as an American student, but when I got to Europe, I felt a little cheated. Students are granted discounts basically everywhere in Europe—with up to 20% off at some to-die-for clothing stores.
2. High Fashion
If you wear sweats and no makeup to class at an American college, no one even blinks an eye. In fact, it’s more noticeable if you don’t wear this lazy getup. If you wore this same outfit in Europe, you’d stick out like a sore thumb. Europeans are impeccable dressers—and this goes for both male and female students. Three-piece suits, freshly pressed skirts and perfectly polished hair are basically non-existent back at my American campus.
3. Country Hopping
Weekend trip to the Alps? Romantic evening in Paris? Oktoberfest, anyone? When you study abroad in Europe, you can country hop like it’s nobody’s business. The countries of Europe are diverse, culturally unique and just a three-hour train ride away. In America, the best you can get with a three-hour trip is a glimpse into the culture of the next state over.
4. Awesome Public Transportation
Not having a car in America can make you feel stranded everywhere you go, but in Europe it actually makes more sense not to have your own car. Public transportation is easily accessible in nearly all major European cities, and it’s easy on your wallet and simple to figure out. Not to mention, a ride on the Tube in London or the Métro in Paris is always a great opportunity to make new foreign friends.
I should point out that my positive experience in Europe wasn’t due entirely to the qualities of the continent; it also had a lot to do with my extensive planning before the trip even began. To make your experience as memorable as mine, I’ll leave you with the following take-away tips:
- Purchase graduate student health insurance: Seriously. Safety and security are key for avoiding disasters.
- Exchange your money before you leave: Converting at the airport or in Europe comes with way more fees.
- Budget, budget, budget: Spontaneous trips, delicious dinners and high-end shopping runs up a hefty bill, so make sure you don’t run out of money!
My experience studying abroad in Europe was a unique and amazing one. I’d recommend such a trip to any student considering a semester in another country. Be prepared to spend a lot of time preparing for the trip beforehand, and then reap the benefits by learning more than you could ever pick up in an American classroom.