Tag Archives | travel

When Vacations Go Wrong: How to Survive Setbacks While Traveling

Image by Efe Kurnaz, unsplash.com

There’s nothing more enjoyable than having the vacation of your dreams planned and added to your calendar. Especially if the trip has been well thought-out, fully paid for in advance, and is coming up in the next few weeks. But sometimes, even with the most well thought-out plans, there still may be a hiccup that absolutely ruins your otherwise perfect trip. This is even more horrifying when something unexpected takes place when traveling internationally. If you have an upcoming vacation planned, the information below may be helpful to you.

Your Credit and ATM Cards Stop Working

Usually, credit cards and ATM cards don’t work for a couple of reasons.

  1. You may have exceeded your daily spending limit.
  2. Your bank or credit card company does not recognize where the charges are being made and consequently may consider it fraudulent activity.

You can overcome this type of setback by simply informing your bank and credit card company when you will be traveling, and request that your daily limit is increased. If your card stops for any other reason, be sure to have a reserve of cash on hand to handle these setbacks.

A Lost or Stolen Card or Wallet

If your wallet becomes lost or stolen, there are two things you can do in advance to overcome this obstacle during your vacation.

  1. Do not keep all your money in one place, so you’ll have some cash readily available should your card or wallet become lost or stolen.
  2. Contact your bank and credit card companies ahead of time and be sure to get travelers insurance that covers lost or stolen cards and wallets.

You Become Ill During Your Vacation

If you become ill while in another state (or another country), obtaining travelers insurance ahead of time will allow you to get the health coverage you need for any unexpected medical issues.

Political or Civil Unrest

If you experience political or civil unrest while traveling abroad, it’s important to contact your state’s US Travel Department should an evacuation need to take place. For the best results, register with your state’s travel department prior to your departure to allow time to contact your local authorities at the time you are faced with any unforeseen political or civil unrest.

Missing Your Schedule

Your itinerary will most likely be filled out before you leave and you probably have a few scheduled stops, tours, or trains to catch. If you miss one, it can seem like the end of the world. If this does happen, the first rule is to not panic. Take a deep breath and remember that you can get refunded, re-scheduled, or re-routed in most instances. If you miss a train, calling a cab, or renting a car might be a better option and could get you where you need to be faster.

Language Barriers

Language barriers can lead to miscommunications that can sometimes result in uncomfortable and even dangerous situations. The best way to overcome this setback is to merely turn to your nearest electronic device and Google what it is you’re trying to say or understand, then have it translated. Carry a dictionary with you and be sure to study the language at least a little before going.

Generally speaking, the best way to survive setbacks while traveling is to plan for them in advance. You can do this by performing the necessary research and positioning yourself for setbacks before they occur.

This article was contributed by guest author Eileen O’Shanassy.

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Top 10 Reasons To Experience Education Abroad

Image by Wokandapix, pixabay.com

Everyone dreams of traveling abroad. What better way to complete that dream than to make it part of your education? You can not only see the world and experience different cultures, but also have a taste of different learning activities. You’ll get a different perspective, which gives you a better outlook on the educational world. Certain MBA courses require an admissions essay with newly developed skills to give you a good head start in your competitive future. To make it more reasonable, here is a list of the top 10 reasons to experience education abroad.

1. A good addition to your CV: Your CV looks really good if you have a degree that’s not local. With a degree from an MBA program abroad, you are likely to receive a superior class of preference. Unless you’re unqualified for the position, you will always be within the top candidates.

2. Language improvement: Your language is more likely to get polished if you have influence from people across the world. Skills like drafting, reading and essay writing, as well as your communication, ways of interaction, personality will be influenced.

3. A different experience: Having a good time in a foreign country is a dream holiday. You can have the experience of a lifetime with unforgettable memories when visiting a new place. When you add education to it, like MBA programs abroad, your experience is brought to the next level and you’ll come home with a degree that will help you in your career.

4. Meeting new people: With new places come new people. Meeting new people is always fascinating, especially when it comes to sharing different cultures. If you are someone with a friendly attitude, you are more likely to find your abroad trip very exciting.

5. A different approach towards learning: You can learn a lot of things from different cultures. Not only is your verbal communication likely to develop, but you’ll notice yourself adding a different perspective when drafting, giving presentations, or writing essays.

6. Feel independent: The more you’re on your own, the more comfortable you’ll be making new friends. You’ll also grow more comfortable making your own decisions.

7. A new look at your own culture: When exposed to new cultures, you’ll automatically have a different view of your own. You will be the spectator as you get to know what others think about your culture and traditional beliefs. You will learn a lot of things and will have a chance to experience something new about your culture from a different point of view.

8. A strong portfolio: There are certain skills that employers look for in candidates. Among those skills, drafting and communication are top of the list. In an MBA program, these skills are also top of the list.

9. Appreciate the little things: The only way to understand the value of little things is to get some separation. When you’re away from your usual environment, you will start to care more for things that you never considered important when they were easily available to you.

10. Working outside of your comfort zone: Working outside of your comfort zone will help you understand your possibilities and limitations. You will understand what’s important to you. You will know what you need to change in order to develop your personality; something very difficult to do if you are in a place where everything is easily achievable.

There are many reasons to take part in an educational career abroad. You will come back independent, active, understanding and more mature.

This article was contributed by guest author Diane Webster.

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7 Ways Studying Abroad Will Prepare You For an Internship

Image by kychan, unsplash.com

Image by kychan, unsplash.com

Last January, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. I packed up my bags and moved 6,074 miles away from my college in San Diego to study at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. During the four months that I studied in Milan, I traveled to 11 different countries and 22 different cities. While I was abroad, I experienced and learned something new almost every day. I did not recognize at the time that my experiences abroad would eventually help me in my career.

I am currently interning for eREACH, a marketing consulting firm in San Diego. My time as an intern has made me realize that I am a better employee because of how I apply the life lessons I learned abroad to my professional life. While there are countless reasons I’d recommend studying abroad to any college student, here are seven ways that studying abroad can give you a leg up in your internship:

1. You’ll Be Pushed Out Of Your Comfort Zone
To say I was terrified of moving to a foreign country is an understatement. I was so afraid of traveling alone that I had multiple anxiety attacks leading up to my departure. Today I am so grateful that I did not let my fears hold me back. If I had given up and stayed in San Diego, I would’ve passed up on the best four months of my life. Today I continue to push myself out of my comfort zone. I was nervous to apply and interview for my internship, but I didn’t let that stop me from doing so. It is completely natural to be afraid and feel anxious about trying something new – but don’t allow your fears to stop you from going after what you want.

2. You’ll Learn To Keep An Open Mind
One of the best parts about traveling is having the opportunity to try each country’s specialty foods. However, what some countries consider to a “delicious delicacy” might seem repulsive to the average American. I am absolutely nauseated by snails – but while I was in Paris I kept an open mind and I tried escargot (also known as cooked snails). As it turns out, escargot was one of my favorite dishes that I tried while I was abroad! Some of the best experiences in life can be the most unexpected. For this reason, I make an effort to keep an open mind at work. I listen to the ideas of my co-workers and I am always willing to try something new. It is easy to think that you always have the best ideas, but two collaborative minds are better than one.

3. You’ll Develop More Effective Communication Skills
One of the most difficult challenges I faced abroad was learning to overcome the language barrier. It was easy to get flustered and frustrated when I couldn’t communicate with the cashier at the grocery store or ask for help when I was lost. I learned that if I first made an effort to speak the native language and then ask for help in English, the locals were much more willing to assist me. There are also many other methods of communication including hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language. If one form of communication didn’t work, I would try to utilize a different method. This experience taught me that not everyone communicates the same way – and that’s okay. If I feel that a coworker and I are experiencing miscommunication, I make an effort to reach out to them in a way they can understand.

4. You’ll Improve Your Time Management Skills
Traveling to eleven different countries in four months requires a great deal of planning. From purchasing plane tickets, to planning transportation to and from the airport, to booking hotels – all while being a full time student in Milan, I became an excellent time manager. I learned that the key to time management is staying organized. It is now easier for me to balance school, work, and my personal life with my newfound organization and time management skills.

5. You’ll Learn To Be Flexible
Not everything went exactly as planned while I was abroad. I traveled to Santorini to see its famous sunset, but it was overcast the entire time I was there. I was supposed to visit the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam, but the line was a five-hour wait in freezing temperatures. Experiences like these taught me to be flexible and go with the flow. Sometimes at work my ideas are rejected or a project doesn’t go as planned. Instead of getting overly upset, I’ve learned to be okay with plan B.

6. You’ll Be Re-Inspired To Learn
Before moving to Milan I was feeling burnt out on school. I no longer had the passion to learn new things – I just wanted to get my degree. Living in Europe exposed me to a new kind of hands-on learning. I studied art by getting a first-hand look at the works of greats like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, and van Gogh. My history lessons included visiting Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and the colosseum in Rome. After being re-inspired to learn new things, I am much more engaged at work. I inquire about things I don’t understand and I genuinely want to learn about and understand the world of marketing much more than I did before.

7. You’ll Gain More Self-Confidence
At the end of my four months in Europe I was no longer nervous and afraid of everything that made me almost bolt off of the plane back in January. I learned that I am capable of so much more than I had originally thought. My new self-confidence has translated into my professional life in a number of ways. I am able to interview better because I am confident in my skills and abilities. I am also not afraid to speak up about my ideas at work. Most importantly, I’m not afraid of failure. I treat my setbacks as learning experiences and I choose to grow from them. After moving 6,074 miles away from home, nothing else seems quite as intimidating anymore.

Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience that can benefit you for a lifetime. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and start learning!

This article was contributed by guest author Alissa Young.

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Packing Tips For Studying Abroad: How Much Should You Take?

Image by Ashim D’Silva, unsplash.com

Image by Ashim D’Silva, unsplash.com

The excitement building as you get ready to study abroad can be one of the best feelings, until you think about how you’ll pack all of your “stuff” to take with you. For those planning any type of extended trip overseas, it’s important to take a step back and ask: “Do I really need this?” Simply, you can’t (and shouldn’t) take everything you own with you, but you’ll want to take what’s necessary and beneficial to your trip.

The Association of International Educators notes that 304,467 U.S. students applied for credit while studying abroad from 2013 to 2014. That’s a 5.2 percent increase from the previous year in individuals going overseas for their education. There’s no doubt that studying overseas is valuable and desirable. But how will you pack to get there?

Don’t Carry, Ship It
One of the best ways to get most of your necessary items overseas is to ship them rather than carry them with you. Using a courier can save you a significant amount of money. Most airlines charge baggage fees that quickly add up. If you know where you are going, arrange for a local resident, perhaps whoever you are staying with, to accept your luggage and packages via a courier shipment. Be sure to send it at least a week or two in advance of your arrival.

Get to Know the Area
Perhaps one of the most important steps to take is to learn what you really need when you visit. Here are some considerations before you pack a single item:

  • Is there a dress code you’ll need to follow?
  • What are the weather trends in the area where you are traveling? Pack clothing to match those trends and save room by eliminating what you don’t really need.
  • Will you have laundry facilities? If so, try choosing a few basic bottoms that match up with numerous tops so you can mix and match. Then, launder items frequently, reducing the amount of clothing you need to bring.
  • Don’t forget the shoes. Research the best type of shoe for the area. It’s nearly always best to bring comfortable shoes that can handle a lot of walking.
  • Bring clothes you’ll feel comfortable and confident wearing. What’s more, be sure you’re willing to wear those items more than once.

Pack Essentials You Can’t Forget
A number of items are must-haves when traveling overseas no matter how long you plan to be gone. These are items that are hard to replace if you forget to bring them or lose them once you arrive in the location. Here are some must-haves:

  • Medications (be sure to talk about getting refills from overseas providers if necessary)
  • Legal documents including your identification and passports. For items such as birth certificates and copies of your transcript, make digital copies to store online so they don’t get lost.
  • Electronic items such as your mobile phone charger are important. Note that some countries use a different electric outlet, so you may need an adapter.

Pack Sensibly
Be sure to pack in a way that’s going to be highly efficient. Instead of just one piece of luggage, pack a couple of smaller bags. This way, if one gets lost, you still have some backup. Ship what you can and then pack a few smaller bags to take with you on the plane.

Here are some must-haves to include:

  • Undergarments and socks
  • Enough clothing for a week (if you can launder it)
  • Jackets to match the climate
  • Clothing to sleep in, work out in, go to a formal event in, etc.
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Gear for any type of trip you plan to take (hiking into the mountains or skiing)

There’s a lot to plan when it comes to overseas travel. The good news is, most schools offer the help you need to get ahead of the game. Take some time to talk to your counselor as well as any family you may be staying with to learn what they’ll be providing. Remember, you’ll probably be able to replace most of what you need locally – so don’t panic if you forget something.

This article was contributed by guest author Susan Burger.

Sources
www.nafsa.org
www.internationalstudentinsurance.com
blog.cengagebrain.com
www.hercampus.com

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Travel Tips For Young Professionals

Image by fdecomite, Flickr

Image by fdecomite, Flickr

With the fast paced world of technology progressing at an alarming speed, face-to-face meetings are happening less often than they used to. They are being replaced by Skype calls and web conferences. However, they have not disappeared completely yet, and are still an important part of many people’s job descriptions.

For younger professionals, they are a chance to not only win their superiors’ favor but to also rise higher through the ranks in the company frame. So for those of you looking for tips on how to prepare for work-related travelling, here are some important points you need to remember when leaving on a business trip.

What You Carry

Try not to carry too much with you. Whatever you need for the duration of the business trip will easily fit into a carry-on bag, and that includes all your work wear and any essentials. It is an unrequited obstacle to carry luggage that you will have to wait for at the airport. The less you carry, the less the hassle.

Practical And Easy

The easiest and most practical way to organize your belongings in your suitcase is to put the heavier things by the wheels and the lighter ones towards the top. So if you’re carrying extra shoes, those will be by the wheels, while your folded, ironed shirts will be at the top. Also, another way to stop your ironed, tailored dress shirts from wrinkling is to pack them into plastic bags and squeeze them between the pants and the blazers. In case they wrinkle anyways, leave them on a hanger in the shower and let the steam clear away any remnants of the creases.

Carry your toiletries in your laptop case to avoid the hassle of taking them out of your suitcase at every security checkpoint. What you do not need, do not take with you – that’s the basic rule of travelling light. Extra equipment for any kind of exercise must be avoided, though you can afford to carry a swimsuit with you in case you’re in the mood for a dip in the pool.

The Essentials

Take extra special care of your important documents and try not to lose them. Your passport, ID, and other important documents must be stay with you throughout the trip in your laptop bag. In case of any loss, make hard and soft copies of all your documents. Store the hard copies among your clothes, while you store the soft ones in an online medium so that they are within your reach at all times. Having a reliable backup in the event that anything could go wrong is absolutely necessary.

This article was contributed by guest author Emma Jenifer.

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My Summer Abroad: Oxford, England

Image by Liana Ramos

Image by Liana Ramos

This past summer I packed up my bags and participated in a Summer Abroad program with my university. I travelled to Oxford, England to take a Shakespeare course at Oxford University. Two of the best aspects about the program were that I completed a full year course in one month, and that as the course was taught by an instructor from my university, I didn’t have to worry about transfer credits!

Oxford is a small town with beautiful historical buildings. (The picture above is of the Radcliffe Camera, which is a part of the Bodleian Library.) It was such an incredible experience to be immersed in a new culture. I often found myself gazing around as I walked down the street because of the newness of it all.

Completing a full year course in one month was intensive – even though I was overseas, I wasn’t on vacation. There was a lot of work to do, just like in a regular course (readings, assignments, a mid-term, and an exam). But it was an enriching experience because I got to see the material I was studying brought to life. Studying abroad allowed me to experience integrated learning. I got to see plays at Shakespeare’s Globe (in London) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (in Stratford). I love reading Shakespeare, so being able to see his work in action was great for my learning because it allowed me to understand the material better.

The Summer Abroad program is, of course, mainly revolved around academics. However, there was time for fun and to explore. Classes were on Monday to Thursday mornings, so that left Monday to Thursday afternoons, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as free time (although there was a lot of studying to do during those hours!). Some people took trips to different countries within Europe because travelling is much cheaper there. I chose to spend a few days in London, exploring the typical tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.

I would recommend pursuing a summer abroad or any international study experience. However, there are some aspects that need to be realistically considered first. It took almost the entire school year to fill out applications, attend orientations, and prepare myself for going abroad (both financially and mentally). It’s a big investment, but many universities have scholarships and bursaries for students wishing to pursue international travel. Before my Summer Abroad trip, I had never travelled internationally before (much less alone!) and I hadn’t been on an airplane in eleven years! But I leapt into this opportunity because I knew it would be an amazing experience. I made some new friendships that will last a lifetime, and this has been my best summer (so far)! Let’s see if I can top it next year.

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Gap Year After College: Yes or No?

gap-year

By Jack Amick on Flickr

After the four years of hard work, late nights, long essays and meeting deadlines that is college, it’s no wonder that so many people are drawn to taking some time off before jumping into another commitment (careers, grad school etc.). But is a gap year really the best option with regards to your long terms goals? A year is a long time, and if not planned correctly, a gap year after college can end up doing more harm than good. Here are some of the pros and cons of taking a gap year after you turn the tassel and throw your cap into the air:

Pros

1. Time to enhance alternate skills and pursue your passion

A gap year gives you a whole extra year after college to pursue your passion before you jump into a regular routine. This could be the perfect opportunity to further develop an interest you discovered in college. For example, say you realized you were deeply interested in theatre during your four years of college. You could use a gap year to enhance your acting skills, or maybe even research and write a play. Being able to enhance skills separate from those you learn in a classroom environment, that align with your passion, is one of the ways in which a gap year can be most rewarding.

2. Certifications to further build up your CV

A year is time long enough to get a few additional certifications under your belt. These will make you more marketable to potential employers, and could even help you earn a better entry-level salary when starting your career. Online certifications in Microsoft Office, or computer programming are very in demand these days. Other programs such as online medical assisting, emergency first response, CPR and more are very useful to have and could even determine your career.

3. Explorations/Volunteering abroad

One of the most common reasons to take a gap year is to explore the world. Taking a year to travel to different countries, experience various cultures and meet new people can be a very inspiring and amazing experience. It’s one thing to read about different cultures in books and talk about them in a classroom setting. It’s another to be fully immersed within that culture, and truly experience a different reality. In the long term, your experiences traveling or volunteering in countries and “making a difference” so to say, will give you plenty to talk about in interviews and make you stand out as an individual. If the wanderlust bug hit you in college, then this might be a great option should you decide to take a gap year.

Cons

1. Lack of a steady income

Chances are your gap year wouldn’t entail you working full time. This means you won’t have a steady income – or any source of income at all. Getting started with your career after graduation is more likely to yield an income, with the potential to increase as time goes on.

2. Potential to waste time

Having a year at your disposal is a long time, meaning there is lots of time that can be wasted. Gap years taken on a whim without prior planning can work out, but only in rare situations. To make the most of your gap year, it should be planned in advance, so that most of your time isn’t wasted in trying to plan something that will only materialize at the end of the year. Another factor is laziness. Knowing you have a whole year ahead could make you lazy at the start, and cause you to put things off. If you are the type of person that easily gets lazy, be aware that before you know it, the year will be over and you will find you will have accomplished much less than you wanted. Ultimately, this will just look like a giant waste of time on your CV, and be detrimental to your future goals.

3. Expenses

Gap years can be expensive. Depending on the type of gap year you choose, you may have to budget for hefty expenses. For instance, traveling involves paying for plane tickets, accommodation and food. Similarly, getting a certification or taking a course to improve your skills is rarely ever free. Budgeting is paramount so that your gap year doesn’t end up leaving you high and dry.

All in all, a gap year can be a wonderful experience. All it needs is some advance planning and being aware of the potential obstacles you may face along the way. If you take this into consideration, you are more likely to have a fulfilling and purposeful gap year after college.

This article was contributed by guest author Akshata Mehta.

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5 Places to Consider When Looking to Study Abroad

Studying abroad can be the experience of a lifetime. Here are five places you should seriously consider when making your decision on picking a location:

1. Paris

Paris

Image by Moyan Brenn, Flickr

This should come as no surprise. Paris is an obvious choice as one of the best cities for, well, probably everything. Although known to be incredibly expensive, Paris offers relatively low tuition fees for students, making it a top contender amongst students. There is also no shortage of great universities in the French capital for basically any program you are interested in.

The best way to enjoy the city is to grab a good book, head to a café and sip an espresso until content. Check out some museums, or just leisurely walk around this beautifully planned city. Leave the Eiffel tower lines to the tourists. You are now a Parisian.

Highlights: Everything…

2. Barcelona

Barcelona

Image by Moyan Brenn, Flickr

Imagine if every day felt like a vacation in Barcelona. Well, here is your chance to make that a reality. With great weather, food, architecture and people, Barcelona may be the destination you have longed for.

Home to the prestigious University of Barcelona and Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, the city has a lively and diverse student population. This could be your opportunity to brush up on your Spanish skills, or learn how to speak the local language of Catalan.

It’s difficult to talk about Barcelona without mentioning the illustrious “party scene” which is more than often associated with the city. If this is your cup of tea, you probably don’t need to read the rest of this list. Just be sure you save some time to study.

Highlights: Great weather, relaxing, party city

3. Florence

Florence

Image by Chris Yunker, Flickr

Are you looking to be inspired? If so, look no further. What is more inspiring than the birthplace of the Renaissance? Florence’s beauty has roused the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, so there should be no difficulty winning you over. Located in the Tuscan region of Italy, Florence is home to the University of Florence, Accademia Italiana, and Lorenzo de’Medici, all of which have many options for international students.

The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the world and will leave you speechless with its beautiful architecture. Use your spare time to learn Italian or take a cooking class. The Tuscan region is also world famous for its wine, so be sure to indulge.

Highlights: Culture, cuisine, art

4. Buenos Aires

Buenos-Aires

Image by Gisela Giardino, Flickr

Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, is the perfect city if you are looking to immerse yourself in Latin American culture. With some of the most prestigious Universities in South America, this large metropolitan city will surely cater to all of your needs.

The city is defined by its dynamic culture, encapsulating a mix of European and South American traditions. Exploring the city on foot will allow you to fully appreciate the artistic beauty Buenos Aires has to offer, with murals and European-style architecture blending together in a way that truly makes it a unique destination.

Be sure to take advantage of the location by visiting neighbouring cities or even touring South America. This growing metropolitan city is definitely one to take into serious consideration.

Highlights: Location, architecture, art

5. Manchester

Manchester

Image by Pablo Fernandez, Flickr

World famous for its music scene, Manchester has produced some of the biggest and most talented names in music: The Smiths, Joy Division and Oasis are just a few of the bands that have come from this famously industrial north west English city.

The city has a large student population, gravitating around the well-known University of Manchester, as well as University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University. The clash between old and new is apparent throughout the city, as industrial architecture remains to be a distinctive quality.

Known for its nightlife, music events and intense football rivalry, you will not have any difficulty keeping entertained.

Highlights: Music scene, large student population, nightlife

Well, there you go. Hopefully this has helped you narrow down where your new adventure will take place. Studying abroad is all about completely immersing yourself in a different environment, so be open to everything that comes your way. Also, be sure to travel as much as you can during your free time; long weekends are a perfect opportunity to check out neighboring destinations. Most importantly, just have a great time.

Good Luck!
OH and be sure to set aside time to “study”.

Studied abroad in the past? Any suggestions on where to go? We want to hear from you! Speak up in the comment section below.

This article was contributed by guest author Rahim Madhavji of Knightsbridge Foreign Exchange.

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The Travel Diaries and Reviews: Portugal

Image by mariusz kluzniak on Flickr

Image by mariusz kluzniak on Flickr

Summer is a great time for many things — working, volunteering, and travel. The first two are great, but what I personally love doing the most is travelling. I was given the opportunity to travel to Lisbon for a short while earlier this summer. If you haven’t gone to a foreign country before, the whole experience might seem a bit intimidating. There are difficulties communicating if you don’t speak the language, and a lot of the time you won’t know anybody else except those you’re going with. My advice is: take any possible chance you can get to go abroad. The experiences you will have and the people you will meet will heavily outweigh any concerns you might have. To encourage you, I will give a peek into my experiences on my most recent vacation.

Food

This is arguably one of the most important aspects of travel to take into account. Being adventurous and trying new foods in different locations is good, but do some research to see if the cuisine of your designation is to your taste. For example, you might have a hard time in Thailand if you can’t stand spicy food, or your options will be restricted if you go to Japan and have a burning hatred for seafood. These following observations are based on personal experience and do not necessarily encompass the whole of Portuguese cuisine: dishes with potatoes and fish are popular, as are pork and clams. What you will see on almost any street however, is a pastry shop selling Portuguese egg tarts. The most famous store (and allegedly the origin of the dessert) is Pastéis de Belém, located in the area of Belém. If you had to eat only one place’s take on the egg tart, definitely go to Pastéis de Belém.

Things to Do and Places to Go

Okay great, you decided that you like or at least want to try Portuguese cuisine. Next, it is essential to figure out if you would actually be into the tourist sites and places Portugal has to offer. Many of the most famous sites will be interesting to history and/or architecture buffs:

If these don’t pique your interest, then the country’s beaches and the casino in Estoril (about an hour away by train) might be more your jam. Baixa, an area of central Lisbon, offers many pedestrian streets with cafes and shops. There are also many other day trips you can take: Sintra (with its fairytale-like Pena Palace) or Cascais. From either city you can easily reach Cabo da Roca, known for its dramatic seascape overlooking a cliff. It is also the most westernmost point of the European continent. I went to most of these attractions, but the very unique Pena Palace remains a favourite.

Accommodation

Assuming your housing isn’t already taken care of, you’ll want to be on the lookout for affordable yet safe and comfortable options, if you can swing it. I did not stay in one, but hostels can often be one such option. Many sites are available for booking your stay, including Hostel World. If cash isn’t an issue, you can try more general hotel websites like Expedia.

Times to Go

All right, so you’ve decided on Portugal as your destination. Granted you aren’t restricted by available days off or an otherwise tight schedule, you need to plan on what time of the year to go. I went during the first few weeks of June. There were benefits and downsides to this — the Feast of St. Anthony occurs on the 12th to the 14th of June, and the parade, streamers, festivals and celebrations are truly sights to behold. However, it was also uncomfortably hot on some days with temperatures in the low 30s. Try to visit during the breezy and not-too-hot seasons of Spring and Autumn.

And that’s it! The cities I visited were extremely welcoming and I absolutely enjoyed my time there. But as they say, all things must regrettably come to an end. As with all my travels, I found myself wishing I could go back — if you go to Portugal, be prepared to say goodbye.

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12 Social Media Accounts to Follow While Studying Abroad

Image by greyweed on Flickr

Image by greyweed on Flickr

Social media is the most powerful platform of disseminating information. It has started to guide our lives in ways that not many would have thought possible a decade ago. How you intend to use it is, however, your prerogative. So, why not use it to your advantage?

For those students who travel abroad for their education, social media can be an important research tool. So, here is a list compiled of social media accounts to make your student-traveler life just that much easier and more adventurous.

Facebook:
The ease of posting blogs, pictures, and posts makes it an ideal site for sharing traveling experiences. Here are some must-follow accounts on Facebook that will give you a completely new perspective on traveling.

The Blonde Abroad:
This award-winning blog-cum-Facebook page is engaging with beautiful photography and video segments.

Everything Everywhere:
The Facebook page name means literally what it says. Gary Arndt has travelled over 170 countries and chronicles his travels through photographs. Give this devout traveler a go and do what he does, whether it is bungee jumping, floating in the Dead Sea or riding out a tsunami in Haiti.

Twenty-Something Traveler:
“Why wait to see the world?” That’s the question you will ask yourself after exploring Stephanie’s blog. This travel blogger not only writes about her travels but also gives some very helpful tips on traveling.

Nomadic Matt:
Are the expenses of travel stopping you from planning your trip? Well, Nomadic Matt is here for your rescue as he tells you how to make budget-friendly trips across the world as he has done with 16 million others.

Twitter:
Head over to the Twitterverse to explore tweeps who have traveled and are now here to help you experience the joys of travel.

Reid on Travel:
Unique in its content, Robert Reid will make you look at places anew and at its eccentric best. He is presently the Digital Nomad for National Geographic Traveler.

Chic Travel:
Discover luxury travel on a budget with Melanie Nayer as she shows you the best that the world has to offer. She explores not only the culinary world but also social issues that matter.

Pinterest:
Pin these travel accounts into your life and they are sure to grab your interest. Find out all the to-dos of traveling!

Go Overseas:
The perfect destination for students, Go Overseas combines travel with meaning. Whether for study, volunteering and interning or taking a gap year, their Pinterest account will guide you through it all.

Globetrotter Girls:
Globetrotting since 2010, Dani and Jess will supply you with the to-dos of traveling while showing you the world through their travels. They address everything from budget travel to social issues.

yTravelblog:
This Australian travel couple, Caz and Craig, will help you with anything travel-related. Whether solo or group trips, they have the best advice up their sleeves and they are willing to share.

Instagram:
Travel through pictures. Be inspired to travel by seeing the world through the lens of another.

A New Yorker Travels:
Harry Devert is the New Yorker who travels. Whether high up in the mountains or down below at Madison Square garden, he captures the world with his camera. And what a world it is.

Kick the Grind:
The world is actually incredible and Mike Corey shows it to you. This travel filmmaker will show you why possessions don’t hold a candle over experiences.

Murad Osmann:
Who wouldn’t be envious of the girlfriend who is leading Murad Osmann around the world? His photograph captures the poignancy of each place.

This article was contributed by guest author Sophia Harris.

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