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How to Accomplish Your Abroad Bucket List

This past week I got to cross a major item on not only my Abroad Bucket List, but also something that I have wanted to do long before I even thought about going abroad: seeing a ballet in Paris.
 Bucket List Item: See a ballet in Paris!

I grew up taking ballet my entire life, and it has impacted my abroad experience in more ways than one. When I found out that CEA was offering to take students to see Swan Lake at the Opera Bastille, no lie, I cried of happiness a little bit. When I left the Opera that night, I thought about how great it was to accomplish something so huge on my list of things I wanted to see in my life, and how it's actually completely amazing the sheer amount of items on my bucket list that I've managed to cross off while abroad. It hasn't been easy to make sure I get to do everything I want to do abroad, but here are a few tips to help you cross off some of your Abroad Bucket List items!

1. Stay Organized

 Bucket List Item: Go to Sainte-Chappelle,
located on Ile de la Cite.

Actually make a list! Write down everything you want to accomplish. It will help you remember, and it feels so good when you get to check something off your list. Also, when you're traveling on the weekends, do research on the places you're going and write down everything you want to do, which things are near each other, et cetera. When you're grasping for wifi in a hostel in Amsterdam, you'll thank me.

2. Ask the [sort of] locals.

Along the lines of doing research, when you're traveling to new places, reach out to friends who have studied abroad there, or family that has been there. People are always willing to share about their travels, and I guarantee you every single person has an idea that won't be in any guide book. Plus, they'll make sure you hit all of your bases. Nothing feels worse than traveling to an amazing city, only to come back and have everyone ask you if you visited such-and-such, and you have to say no.

3. Ask the [actual] locals.

 Bucket List Item: Eat Swiss
fondue in Switzerland.

On my very first weekend trip, something amazing happened. We were looking for a place to get authentic Swiss fondue in Switzerland, and we asked a random man on the street where we should go. He pointed us down the street, and we ended up at a fondue place that Bill Clinton himself had been to, and I enjoyed some of the best fondue of my life. Don't be afraid to ask the locals where to go, they know their city!

4. Accept that you can't do everything.

One of the easiest ways to let yourself feel stressed abroad is by tying to do Every. Single. Thing. And book every moment of your time. I've been lucky enough to cross a lot of places and activities off of my bucket list, but I've also accepted that I'm not going to make it to every city of Europe. It's all about prioritizing and organization to figure out what you can reasonably do abroad with the time and budget you have. For me, that means a big trip to Italy will have to wait, but I've also gotten to travel to 8 different countries as well as explore my host city, Paris, in the past few months and that was a trade I was willing to make.

An Abroad Bucket List is great because it keeps you focused and organized, and also makes you feel so accomplished and worldly (yeah, I feel worldly!) at the end of the day. I've gotten to do so many unique and interesting things abroad, and I still have a month left to find adventure and keep crossing things off of my list. Wish me luck!

Kacie Diamond is the Spring 2015 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France. She is currently a junior at University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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