Tips for future study abroad travelers

Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Elise Crosley | Reporter

Baylor’s study abroad program, BearsAbroad, provides students with opportunities to travel all over the world. At the end of their trip, students typically post all sorts of pictures showing the places they’ve been and the people they’ve met. However, not many share what’s difficult about studying abroad or what future students need to know before heading to study in another country. Here are a few helpful tips and tricks from students who have recently studied abroad. There are study abroad information sessions every Monday and Tuesday from 4-5 p.m. in Room 260 of Hankamer Academic Building.

1 – Water isn’t free: “You pay for it. It’s not in abundance, so you become really grateful for that,” Brentwood, Tenn. senior Morgan Hosay said, a student who was a part pf the Baylor Business in Europe trip this past summer.

2 – Learn the culture beforehand: “There are a bunch of different cultural aspects that if you don’t know beforehand; you might come off as rude or not portraying how you want to portray yourself,” Dallas graduate student Azhar Lakhani said, a student who was a part of the Baylor in the Caribbean-Costa Rica trip this past summer.

3 – Bathrooms cost money: “Paying for bathrooms over there can be difficult because you’re in a hurry, and you may not have the currency. That can become frustrating, so you’re grateful for the free bathrooms here,” Hosay said.

4 – Be flexible: “Be willing to go with whatever happens. Be willing to turn every situation into something positive. Remember that you’re in a beautiful, unique country. Be spontaneous and live in the moment,” Waco sophomore Kate Moffatt said, a student who took part in the Baylor in Peru trip this past summer.

5 – Don’t expect air conditioning: “You’re grateful for air conditioning in the United States because a lot of places over there didn’t have that,” Hosay said.

6 – Comfortable shoes are key: “Most of the days we’d walk 12 or 13 miles. At first, it had felt like we walked all day, but by the end, I preferred walking. I thought it was a great way to see the city because you got to walk around and experience things. Be very mindful of your shoe choice. You walk a lot,” Hosay said.

7 – Get out of your comfort zone: “If you’re a more reserved person, I would encourage you to go out and explore the city. You probably have this chance once or twice in your lifetime, especially going out with other college students and friends. Take advantage of it. Don’t just stay in the hotel because you’re tired. You can sleep when you get back home,” Lakhani said.

8 – Enjoy the slow meals: “Restaurants are different because they are more of a dining experience and less about the food you’re eating. I think that was a little hard at first because we would wait until 10 p.m. to eat since we’d been seeing things all day, and we expected food in 15 minutes. However, they were trying to do a three-hour ordeal, which was different than what we had in mind. If you’re going to a restaurant as a big group, they won’t divide the check up for you. So, be prepared to Venmo and sit at separate tables. It’s really hard to do that because you want to eat with your friends, but have that plan in mind. None of us knew that, so the first time we went out to dinner they handed us a $350 check. It was frustrating and hard because money doesn’t transfer in the blink of an eye,” Hosay said.

9 – Use the country’s currency: “Always have the currency of the country because most places don’t have a lot of accessibility to running a credit card. Some people I was with relied solely on their credit card, and that was really frustrating. They’d want to buy a water bottle and be scrambling to find an ATM,” Hosay said.

10 – Talk to locals: “When you get the chance, talk to people who actually live in the country you’re going to. Ask them what their life is like. You’ll learn so much more about the culture than your professors can tell you because they’re the ones that actually live there,” Lakhani said.

11 – Make reservations ahead of time: “If there are specific things you want to see in a specific country, be mindful of that and book that ahead of time. When you get there, there’s not a lot of time to schedule things,” Hosay said.

12 – Write and reflect: “I would encourage students to keep a journal for all of their memories so that they will be able to reflect back on this time,” San Antonio junior Sloane Simpson said, a student who was a part of the Baylor Business in Europe trip this past summer.

13 – Make new friends: “Don’t forget to branch outside your friend group if you come on the trip with friends. Everyone became fast friends. I feel like I knew people at Baylor before the trip, but now I feel like I know a whole lot more people,” Hosay said.

14 – Bring games: “Another small tip is to be that one person that brings playing cards. There’s going to be a lot of times on the bus when you’re traveling or just sitting there. Sometimes you’ll want to talk to people and play games with them, and cards make it fun,” Lakhani said.

15 – Get unlimited data: “You’re for sure going to use more data than you think you’re going to use. You’d think you’d be able to hop on some wifi at restaurants or hotels, but it doesn’t work that way. The wifi is not that good, and you’re going to get really frustrated when you’re trying to text someone in the hotel at night or call your parents or submit an assignment on Canvas when the wifi isn’t working. You’re going to really wish you had unlimited data,” Hosay said.

16 – Stay in touch: “It is important to keep in touch after because you get really close. Our group still meets up sometimes just to keep getting to know each other,” Lakhani said.

“I loved my experience. I thought it was awesome. I would do it over and over again. I highly recommend it to everyone,” Hosay said.

For more information about BearsAbroad, click here.