I am a firm believer that learning doesn’t just take place in the confines of classrooms and lecture halls. In fact, I truly believe that the open road is the best learning ground there is. Which is why I am going to convince you, that travel is indeed an essential aspect to your study abroad experience.
I mean, think about it. You finally manage to break out of your comfort zone and start a new journey in a new country. You’ve overcome the culture shock and got into the grind of university life. What’s missing right now is feeding that inner wanderlust and curiosity deep inside you.
Traveling is a valuable opportunity you should grab while you study abroad. Especially if you are studying in Europe, make use of that Schengen Visa! That visa is like a golden ticket for endless wonders. Plus, travel around Europe is incredibly easy, as neighboring countries are easily connected by a convenient railway system. If you study in Europe or UK, you can easily cross the border and experience a whole different culture.
Make use of your holidays
Studying in the UK is the best because you get at least a couple of weeks of holidays for Christmas and Easter. Make use of that down time to go and explore the country! UK has plenty of great places to go. Scotland highlands is incredibly magical, and seaside town of Cornwall reportedly has amazing views. Or if you’re up for a challenge, cross the channel and get ready to conquer mainland Europe.
Save up while traveling and don’t pay for accommodation
Hostels around Europe are fairly cheap, but if you’d like to save up some more, there are plenty other ways to not pay for accommodation. Start by looking for free room or simply a couch from Couchsurfing and start making friends from all over the world, all while saving your budget. Benefit from PPI (Indonesian student association abroad) network, ask around on social media and see if fellow Indonesian scholars are willing to let you stay over at their place. It’s sometimes nice to have company with familiar culture when you’re in a strange place.
Look into your university’s International Office
There was once a program at my university organized by the International Office, where they arrange for International Students staying in Cardiff during Christmas holidays to visit a local’s home and spend Christmas together. The program was open to students of all nationalities, ethnic or religious backgrounds, simply because Christmas is a big part of the culture in UK, and not necessarily tied to a religious holiday.
I’m not quite sure if the program still runs right now, but it is worth a check with your campus’ International Office if they have similar immersion programs like this. The International Office in campuses are there to make sure international students are well accommodated and immersed in the culture, so it is not uncommon for them to organize trips for international students. If you’re lucky, the trip might even be free of charge!
Visit a local friend’s hometown
If all fails, then just Do It Yourself! Surely you’ll make local friends, so why not ask them if it’s okay to join them in their hometown for the weekend. It would be great to get to see what other towns are like, and how people live.
Just go to the next town over!
There’s really no excuse to not travel. Even if it is just a short day trip or a weekend trip, why not take a trip to the next town. As said before train (or even bus!) travel is very much convenient in UK and Europe. It is relatively cheap as well and you could even score a student discount (tips for UK students: get a Student Railcard).
I could go on and also talk about what benefits you’d get from traveling. Obviously, travel would expand your horizon and expose you to a variety of diverse culture and perspective. It will also teach you a lot more about being independent, and train your instincts on the road.
There’s really not much more to say but to pick a destination, pack up your bags and hop on that train. And remember that money is best spent on experiences, not things, and this will only add to your amazing chapter on your journey of studying abroad.
Featured photo in this article is taken from the author’s personal collection.