Don't Be Afraid of Traveling
Today's Student Spotlight is Tara Croft!
Major: Globalization & International Affairs and Comparative Humanities
Class year: 2019
Hometown: London, KY
1. Describe your Education Abroad program(s):
I attended both the June and July sessions of CISabroad's "Summer in Paris" studying French language with Institut Catholique de Paris. It was two, 21 credit hour sessions of French immersion (the class, including the levels for absolute beginners, were 100% in French).
2. Is this a good program for other students in your major?
There were several other students from different schools and different programs in my classes that had similar majors to my first major, but I would recommend education/travel abroad and learning a new language to everyone, regardless of major.
3. Was this your first time abroad?
4. How do you feel that you benefited from studying abroad?
Probably the most impactful benefit was figuring out what I do and don't like with regards to traveling and living on my own (in addition to the knowledge that both are completely possible and pretty easy), which is to say: I much prefer solo travel, I don't care for group tours as they go too slow, and random/non-chosen roommates will probably be not great roommates, at least if you care about following rules. Getting opinions on things
5. How do you think this experience will impact your future plans?
I definitely don't want to live in France, and would absolutely live in Dublin (which I visited as a solo trip at the end of the first session). Canada has also been cool in my brief visits to their airports so far, as I expected it would be. However, I'm excited to do more solo traveling in the future.
6. How did the experience differ from your expectations?
It was warmer, with more mosquitoes, dogs, and social equality. I also wasn't able to travel to as many countries as I'd hoped, due to both time and money constraints.
7. What other countries have you traveled to?
During my education abroad experience (my first time leaving the United States), I have visited Canada, the UK (England, Scotland, and Wales), Ireland, and the Netherlands, in addition to France.
8. Favorite thing about studying abroad?
The excursions included in my program (Musée d'Orsay, the Louvre, tuk-tuk and river/canal cruise tours, Giverny, Marais walking tour, Versailles, and welcome/farewell dinners).
9. Suggestions for future students?
Pack lightly and appropriately for where you're going, but don't forget to save room for your souvenirs on the return trip. I had to buy an extra suitcase after visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and spending 100 euros at the gift shop. Even with a checked suitcase, backpack, and carry on suitcase, I had to buy vacuum bags and leave a few things behind to make everything fit. Trying to get to/from airports with 2 suitcases and a backpack, especially in France/the UK/any country that has mandatory stairs everywhere, is also quite difficult.
Buy the bulk travel cards if possible (weekly/monthly/prepaid cards for public transportation).
Don't get the ISIC card if you're going to the UK or Paris, because the museums are either free to everyone already (London), don't offer student discounts, or only offer discounts if you have a EU student ID. Other places that ISIC says give student discounts probably offer them to anyone with a student ID as well, so just bring your EKU ID and/or get a student ID from the university you'll be studying with abroad. The only place I saw with an ISIC-specific discount was the aquarium in Paris which was only 2 euros off and wasn't something I really wanted to go to anyway.
If you're going to Paris, skip going up the Eiffel Tower; go to Montmartre instead for free if you want to see the city. Everything looks the same except for a few tall landmarks anyway. Or, go up Tour Montparnasse so you can actually see the Eiffel Tower while also keeping the ugly Tour Montparnasse out of your pictures. Also, enter the Louvre through the metro station instead of the pyramid and take pictures of the pyramid on the way out to avoid huge lines.
Similarly, don't just do the touristy things, and when you do, always buy your tickets online in advance if possible if it will keep you from waiting in line for hours.
Don't stop at the top or bottom of the stairs, on the stairs, in the middle of the sidewalk, near the end of lines where you would confuse people about where the end of the line is, or in front of doors or gates.
10. Anything you'd like to add?
Don't be afraid of traveling. The most you have to worry about is getting pick pocketed, which can be avoided pretty easily.
Published on October 11, 2017