There’s no denying that the world of study abroad has changed due to the circumstances brought on by COVID-19. As the world begins to reopen and students are able to venture abroad, there may be limitations set on travel outside of one’s chosen host city or country. While this might seem unfortunate at first, don’t let this deter you from studying abroad in the coming months! Here are four tips for having a fulfilling study abroad experience, even if you might have to spend more time in your host city and country.
1. Use buses to take day or overnight trips
When I studied abroad in Granada, Spain, I didn’t leave the country for the duration of my stay. Although my study abroad experience was cut short due to COVID-19, I made it a point to absorb all that my host city and surrounding area had to offer during the first half of my abroad experience. I took the bus to Malaga and other cities around southern Spain, and although I didn’t take the weekends to go to Paris or London, I was able to see beautiful cities and sights right in southern Spain. I gave myself the opportunity to appreciate all that the place I chose to study abroad had to offer, and I’m extremely thankful that I was able to experience its wonders and beauty.
Taking the bus in many European cities is typically very accessible and user-friendly. Making the most of this easy mode of transportation is a great way to take fun, fulfilling trips with those in your program to the places less-traveled around your host city!
2. Participate in activities offered through your local university
Venturing to the University of Granada’s Sports Center was one of the best decisions I made when I studied abroad. The CEA Onsite Staff told my group about all of the programs and excursions offered through the local university, and I made sure not to pass these opportunities up. I decided to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains as part of the university’s hiking program, but there were so many other options to choose from, including joining club sports and taking excursions to the Sierra Nevadas to go skiing. By looking into activities offered through the local university in your host city, you’re able to participate in engaging, dynamic opportunities, often with local students and adults!
3. Adventure whenever you can!
Cities across the globe with CEA programs contain endless opportunities for adventures. Even if you’re not situated in a valley with mountains all around you like I was, you may be close to a beach, in the heart of a city, or in a forest or mountainous region. Wherever you are, seize the opportunity to safely adventure in and around your host city. From simply taking a stroll through the winding streets for a few hours to planning a more intense excursion through the nearby town, spontaneous adventures often make the best memories. You’ll be able to stay close to your city if travel restrictions are in place, and you’ll still be able to have endless fun in a variety of ways!
4. Explore every square inch of your host city
To have an enriching experience, not everything has to be a tremendous, travel-packed adventure. While these weekend trips outside of your host country are exciting, simply taking the time to explore your host city can be extremely revealing and rewarding. I took countless walks through the streets of Granada, roaming down narrow sidewalks and turning onto new streets to see where I would end up. Grab your camera and a backpack to head to the local park and snap some photos. Find a bench and people watch for some time. Bring your journal and a picnic blanket to sprawl out downtown. Exploration can be relaxing, and whether you choose to go solo or bring a few friends along, you’re sure to remember the moments where you took in everything about your host city.
Study abroad has been shaped in dynamic ways as a result of COVID-19. Because of these changes, be sure to thoroughly research the host city you want to study in, and make sure you’ll be content exploring and absorbing everything it has to offer. Make sure it meets your needs before you embark on your adventure, and get ready to make some of the best memories of your life!
Angela Richard is the Summer 2020 CEA MOJO Blogger in Seville, Spain, and is currently studying at Champlain College.