Not sure if studying abroad is for you? Read what past students have to say about their experiences!
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Below are some general questions and answers by some DSC students that have studied abroad.
1. What did you find to be the best way to meet people of the country in which you were living?
Student #1: I met people from London in the subway. You are sitting by someone from London every time you get on the subway and since it always takes a few minutes to get to the destination, it creates a nice setting to interact briefly with someone else. I met people walking around the campus neighborhood, shopping, and eating at non-tourist restaurants.
Student #2: Always be friendly; remember we are guests in their country.
Student #3: Smiling at them and trying your best to speak French. Bonjour, bonsoir, and bonne nuit are vital for maintaining a good relationship with everyone, even complete strangers. Usually they will break into English because they know as soon as you say one word that you are American.
Student #4: Go out as much as possible...
Student #5: The best way to meet new people was to just go out into the town. We always met people who were willing to help us any way they could. We met a lot of children too. In China, everyone learns English as a second language starting in kindergarten. Many of the children’s parents would push them forward to speak to us. The parent’s were so proud of their children for communicating in English.
2. In retrospect, what piece of advice would you give a future student regarding their non-academic life while abroad (social, travel, recreational)?
Student #1: Don’t spend your time doing something you can do at home, don’t waste energy and money drinking, forget about your culture and how you like things to be or taste. If you become part of the culture you are visiting, you will learn more and interact better with its members.
Student #2: Become friends with some locals. Visit as many places as possible. Don't party all the time.
Student #3: Stay humble to the people and be sure to respect quiet hour which is after 10 pm. Don’t be too noisy and obnoxious in public places. It is ok for French people to be loud, but it is disrespectful for Americans to be loud. Dress conservatively because chances are there will be someone who will attack you.
Student #4: Paris is a wonderful city, there is a lot of stuff to do and see...just take it one day at a time. Don't over load the day. The days are longer and you can put a lot in them.
Student #5: Make sure to go out and experience the culture. Go out and explore, get to know the culture and the people. Get involved and try to learn the language. Nothing is more offensive than going to another country and expecting everyone to cater to your language needs. Of course, you probably won’t be any where near fluent in the language of your host country, but trying shows that you care. It means a lot that you actually attempted to communicate in their language.
3. What do you wish you had brought from home?
Student #1: Nothing, I didn’t miss a thing.
Student #2: Sheets
Student #3: You mean what I wish I had not brought from home. It is not a third world country. They will have everything that you could possibly want except for Doritos and Little Debbies.
Student #4: My debit card and more clothes.
Student #5: Better luggage. There is nothing to compare with good luggage. Make sure to invest in a good set before you leave. It’s better to spend a bit at once on a good product than to spend smaller amounts that add up on luggage that falls apart and breaks. Make sure to bring an MP3 player or IPOD. They can make the difference on long plane and train trips.
4. What do you wish you had left at home?
Student #1: Shoes, I took too many pairs. Two pairs is enough, tennis and casual shoes.
Student #2: Cosmetics, hair dryer, shoes.
Student #3: Half of my clothes, cd player, cell phone.
Student #4: All of my shoes except my tennis shoes.
Student #5: Nothing, I was thankful for everything that I brought.
5. Any travel tips (e.g. the train vs. the bus, a guidebook to buy?)
Student #1: Don’t be afraid of getting lost; there are maps, people, and all kinds of traveler guides that can help you, it won’t be the end of the world. Get the eye witness tourist guide and study it before you go, you will be amazed at how much you get to know a place by reading the maps and commentaries in this guide, they helped me tremendously!!!
Student #2: In London, the underground is the best. In Paris, I suggest the Metro. Get accurate maps
Student #3: Take the metro everywhere. The metro closes around midnight and taxi fares at night are ridiculously expensive. Don’t waste time napping through the day. If anything sleep a little late one morning to catch up on sleep, Five weeks sounds like a long time, but it is not near enough time to see and do everything. Italy is long train ride, especially to Florence and Rome (12 and 16 hours). Italy is another trip in itself and one weekend is not enough. Be careful when you jaywalk.
Student #4: Always take the Paris metro...it may be sticky and gross, but it is effective. A guidebook is a necessity.
Student #5: If you go to China, get a bike. They make the difference in traveling around town. They’re so much fun, you get your exercise for the day, and it’s a wonderful way to experience everyday life. It also saves you in taxi fares. PS: If you buy one, buy a used one; no one will want to steal it if it’s used.
6. How about ‘must see’ places? Why are these ‘must-see’?
Student #1: Eiffel tower, beautiful.
Student #2: In Paris: Eiffel Tower. In London: All the museums: London Eye
Student #3: Go to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower (it is a better view than the very top). Nice, France is great and the Mediterranean water is beautiful. The Louvre is wonderful, but don’t try to do it all in one day because it is just too big. The Swiss Alps are breathtakingly gorgeous and are worth seeing. The gardens of Giverny are a must see site. Normandy is a great place to go, but if you don’t pay for the tour of the war memorial don’t even waste your time going (it was $55). If you dare venture to Rome you will love it and you must see the Coliseum, Pantheon, Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, the beautiful fountains, and drink water out of the public fountain.
Student #4: Eiffel Tower, all of the cathedrals, and museums...
Student #5: Make sure to see the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It’s breath taking. Also make sure to go to the Great Wall. You can’t say that you’ve been to China if you never visited the Great Wall.
7. How did you manage your money? Did you open a bank account, use credit cards, use a money card, traveler’s checks, or have money wired?
Student #1: I primarily used a bank account. I also used a credit card. I don’t recommend American Express; a lot of places don’t take it.
Student #2: I used my Visa debit card and a credit card. Visa and Mastercard are good. Do not use American Express. There are not many ATMs or places that accept American Express.
Student #3: Debit and credit is the best. Bank of America has BNP Paribas all over the place and several right next to the FIAP. If you have an account here, it is free to withdraw money.
Student #4: I used the American Express travelers cheque card.
Student #5: I split my money three ways. ¼ was in cash, ¼ was in traveler’s checks, and ½ was in a bank account. Personally, I had no problems accessing my money. A few others had problems with the ATMs, but if they needed to borrow money for a couple of days everyone pitched in to support them until they could access their accounts. Also, if you go to China, wait to have your money exchanged until you arrive, you get a better exchange rate that way.