Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Encountering Cultures Across Europe

Q&A with Amy: Traveled in Europe
Share this
Print this
Amy
Traveled in Europe
Plymouth State University
Her thoughts on Coming Home
I quickly realized that people tire of hearing your stories. It's difficult to communicate what the experience abroad was truly like. I began missing my gypsy lifestyle.
Her thoughts on Pre-Departure Preparation
I worked six days a week, sometimes for over 12 hours a day to make over $4,500 in three months, enough to fund my travels, as well as the necessary preparations, like a passport and a quality backpack.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
Fear holds people back from taking the leap to travel, but I believe it is vital to have as many unique experiences as you can. I believe in living an extraordinary life.
Her thoughts on Taking It All In
We rarely ate at restaurants, instead packing picnics. But we made sure to have one nice meal out in each country to taste local specialities.

When and where did you travel abroad? Did you backpack?

I traveled in the fall of 2011, backpacking through Europe with my best friend from college. We started in London, headed up to Scotland for a few days, then spent 10 days traveling throughout Ireland. We flew to Munich, Germany, staying there for four nights before heading to Prague, Vienna, Venice and finally ending our journey in Paris. We backpacked for a total of two months!

What was the biggest surprise about your travel experiences abroad?

One of the biggest surprises about backpacking abroad was how few Americans we met! We met many young adults from all over the world, particularly Australia, the UK and France, but seldom encountered any other Americans. I suppose it is because hostel culture is very unfamiliar in the States, and traveling around regions of America is more difficult and costly than backpacking through the smaller land mass of Europe. It could also be that American students and young people are not as strongly encouraged to take a gap year or spend a year traveling or volunteering. There is a strong emphasis on focusing on developing your career in your 20s in America. I try to encourage everyone I know to backpack abroad if they have the opportunity. I often think that fear or uncertainty holds a person back from taking the leap to travel, but I believe it is vital to have as many unique and life-changing experiences as you can. I believe in living an extraordinary life.

What made your travel experience abroad a success?

A great choice we made for our backpacking trip was to see more places and stay for shorter periods of time. We wanted to see a great deal of Ireland, so we spent 10 days there; our longest stint in any one country. Ireland was a beautiful and very affordable to travel around using their extensive bus system. In the other countries we visited, we spent three or four nights in each city, which we found to be the perfect amount of time. We were able to see all the major sights, enjoy an evening or two out, and spend time outdoors, often making time to hike or to take advantage of free walking tours.

How did you finance your trip abroad and did you find any creative solutions to stay on budget?

I decided to go abroad on my 25th birthday. I was working as a waitress at the time, so I began picking up every extra shift I could in order to fund my adventure. I worked six days a week, sometimes for over 12 hours a day, but it was worth it. I made over $4,500 within three months, enough to fund my travels themselves, as well as all the necessary preparations, such as getting a passport, a quality travel backpack and other essentials. My friend Ryan and I were great at budgeting! We set our limit at $50 per day, including hostels and transportation. We kept careful daily records of our spending, and adjusted as necessary. To save money, we cooked meals in our hostel kitchen whenever possible, stayed at the cheapest hostels we could find, and did our laundry by hand in the sink if we could! We rarely ate at restaurants, instead packing picnics of fruit, cheese and bread. It was lovely to eat out in the open. We did make sure to have one nice meal out in each country, however, to have a true international dining experience, and taste local specialities.

Can you talk about a particular instance that gave you insight into your host culture or that helped you build cross-cultural communication skills?

While staying in Vienna, Austria, we couch surfed. If you don’t know, Couchsurfing is an internationally recognized program that connects travelers with willing hosts who have an available couch or place to sleep for a few nights. It is a wonderful organization full of like-minded individuals who value travel extensively and who like connecting with locals while abroad. My friend and I stayed with a really kind couple, the man was German and his girlfriend was from Greece. I listened to them speak to each other in German, Greek, English and French, flawlessly transitioning from one language to the next. I was in awe at their multilingual abilities, and wished I had the same skills. I hope to improve in a few languages over the next few years.

Our hosts took us to a party where we met a large group of fellow couch surfers. I don’t think I have ever been in such international company! There were about 25 individuals, all from different countries. It made me feel really lucky to be meeting such a varied group and to learn about their unique homes, languages and cultures. I discovered how travel unites people, and how a common love of experiencing the world makes us a part of a very special community.

What was your return like?

As I left Europe, I felt happy to be going home; the time was right. At first my return was a pleasure, and everyone wanted to hear my stories. But I quickly realized that people often tire of hearing your stories, and it is difficult to communicate what the experience abroad was truly like. I began missing my gypsy lifestyle, and especially missed the beautiful sights of Europe and meeting new, interesting people every day. I don’t feel like my backpacking trip satiated my wanderlust, but rather added fuel to the flame, and increased my desire to travel into a need.

Over the next year, I decided to apply to graduate programs in the UK and Ireland, and in fall of 2012, headed abroad again to spend the year living and studying in Scotland!

What is your number one tip for anyone hoping to follow in your footsteps?

My number one tip would be to seek out unique experiences in your travels abroad—go off the beaten path, find un-touristy places and most of all, be flexible! One of the best days of our trip was in Paris. We set off to visit the Palace of Versailles, only to discover when we got there that it was closed that day. Instead of lamenting our poor luck and wasted train fare, we headed up to Montmartre to explore bohemian Paris. We had a lovely day discovering this area on foot and had a picnic of fruit, cheese and champagne in the shadow of the Sacre-Coeur.

Describe an experience you had abroad that made a particularly strong impression on you.

One of the most incredible parts of going abroad was all the amazing people I met. Part of the beauty of travel is its ephemeral nature. This holds true with personal encounters. You can come across some awesome folks, either locals or fellow travelers, and you can share wonderful experiences with them, and then in a flash, you part, probably never to meet again. It made me appreciate these moments even more, and be as present as possible. To encounter an amazing person is always a blessing, no matter how brief your time together.

On a side note, while traveling through Scotland, I met another American who was staying in my hostel. We had a wonderful few days getting to know each other in Scotland, and he and I also met up in London at the end of my backpacking trip. We kept in touch, and a few months later, he became my boyfriend! We’ve been together for a year, and are now planning to travel together in the future. Just another example of how going abroad really can change your life!

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

After I complete my master’s at the end of the summer, I’ll be heading back to the States for a bit. Sometime in late fall, my boyfriend and I intend to head off to Australia on working holiday visas for several months. We both want to experience a completely new and exciting place, and have a great adventure. Career-wise, I hope to do a great deal of travel writing and photography, and I would also very much like to work in the field of study abroad. I’d love to help students find that perfect program, or even manage programs at destination universities in Europe.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Amy has offered some great insights in her well-written submission. Brava!

Many people aspire to be travel writers, and while a few select writers do succeed, the competition is fierce and the pay is rock bottom. Amy certainly has a unique perspective and a strong writing style, which will stand her in good stead as she pursues writing gigs while at home or abroad.

In terms of breaking into the field of study abroad advising, she could work with any one of the many service provides who provide study abroad packages to US and Canadian schools, or work directly for a university as a study abroad advisor. The best first step for Amy might be to make contact with her own school’s study abroad advisor for advice, and also to look up the many career services that are available through NAFSA, the US umbrella organization for study abroad and international student advisors.

To improve her future job prospects, Amy should consider traveling to a non-Western country. While in Australia, we highly recommend heading to South East Asia if you are looking for cheap, easy and meaningful cross-cultural travel.

Amy's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
Discover the Career Value of Going Abroad
Get the facts! See surveys and stats linking your experiences abroad to future career success.
Sample Application Documents: See How Others Did It!
Get inspired by actual documents that real students used to apply for internships, volunteer positions and other go abroad experiences.
In a Rush? Read These Articles First
These carefully chosen articles will lead you to our most important go abroad strategies!
Quick Guides! Our Most Popular Go Abroad Topics
View, print or share our easy-to-use guides available in English, French and Spanish.
The World Online
Want to stay in touch with the world? Check out these top (and sometime quirky) links!
Are You Prepared for the International Job Search?
How much do you know about international jobs in your field? Get ready for a targeted job search!
Do You Have Enough International Experience?
Have you maximized your international experience? Are you ready for the international job search? Find out!
What's Your International IQ?
How much do you really know about living and working abroad? Take this quiz to find out!
Quizzes: Your Master Scorecard
Check your scores for all quiz categories: international skills, experience & the job search.
Career-Boosting Strategies for International Students Studying in North America
What does it take for an international student to succeed in North America? We’ve got tips to help you thrive!
Earn $25 Gift Card & Submit Your Story From Abroad
Been abroad? Want to share your story? Submit your Q&A today to see your experience online!
Self-Evaluations: Think Analytically About Going Abroad
Keep track of your evolving international skill set before, during and after your international experience. Be ready to apply for jobs in the global economy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to all your questions about MyWorldAbroad by diving into our Frequently Asked Questions section.
Your International Resume & LinkedIn
Write your international resume first, and then create that all-important LinkedIn profile.
Top Tips on Going Abroad & Your Career
Scan our top tips in 40 go abroad subject areas: international skills, getting experience, finding work, and the professions.
International Skills: Be More Than Just a Tourist!
International people have a unique skill set. Learn the terminology and get professional about describing your time abroad.
100+ Career-boosting Strategies While Abroad
Discover enterprising, innovative ideas for how to demonstrate your international skills to future employers.
10258
- # of # Filtered -
  • 81
81
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
1
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
2
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
3
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
4
10851
Tips From Tasmania
5
9807
Fast Friendship In Korea
6
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
7
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
8
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
9
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
10
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
11
9784
Skill-Building In Bonn
12
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
13
9762
American Freshman In London
14
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
15
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
16
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
17
9741
Adapting To Work In Peru
18
9773
Independent In India
19
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
20
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
21
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
22
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
23
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
24
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
25
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
26
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
27
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
28
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
29
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
30
9771
Learning To Love London
31
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
32
9737
Passionate About Panama
33
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
34
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
35
9787
A Spring Semester In London
36
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
37
10192
Out And About In Paris
38
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
39
10157
Changing Course In China
40
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
41
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
42
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
43
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
44
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
45
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
46
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
47
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
48
9753
A Season In Sweden
49
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
50
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
51
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
52
9752
Giving In Guatemala
53
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
54
9748
Adventure In The Alps
55
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
56
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
57
9754
Building Memories In India
58
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
59
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
60
9765
Simpatico In Florence
61
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern In Rome
62
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
63
9756
Springtime In Spain
64
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
65
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
66
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
67
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
68
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
69
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
70
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
71
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
72
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
73
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
74
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
75
9817
A Bulgarian In England
76
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
77
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
78
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
79
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
80
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
81
10258
All Job Boards
432
All NGOs
1568
Au Pair Resources
32
Awards and Grants Resources
29
Business and Finance Job Boards
65
Business Directories
20
Canadian Federal, Provincial and Territorial Government Profiles
64
Canadian Government Resources
26
Children and Families Abroad
21
Country Guides
51
Cross-cultural Skills
101
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
61
Expatriate Networking Sites
20
Foreign Students Working in the US
10
Freelancing Abroad
23
General Job Search
23
Global Education and Social Action
29
Health and Medicine Job Boards
52
Health Career Resources
40
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
32
International Development Career Resources
45
International Internship Job Boards and Advice
46
International Internship Organizations
310
International Internships and Student Programs With Canadian Governments
34
International Internships With the US Government
40
International Job Hunting Resources
13
International Law Careers Resources
91
International Law Job Boards
22
International Studies in the US and Canada
12
International Trade Resources
28
International Volunteer Organizations
493
Internships With the UN and Other IGOs
137
Language Careers
30
Learn a Language
102
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
27
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
13
Loans for Studying Abroad
13
Low-cost Travel
27
NGO Directories
32
NGO Job Boards
41
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
135
Relocating Abroad
19
Resources for International Students Studying in the US or Canada
49
Stories From Abroad
81
Study Abroad Resources
183
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
107
Teach English Abroad Resources
61
Tools for Travelers
38
Top International Blogs
40
Travel Health and Safety
37
UN and Other IGOs
220
UN and Other IGOs Job Boards
16
UN and Other IGOs Resources
17
US Government Profiles
80
US Government Resources
34
Visas and Passports
16
Volunteer Job Boards and Advice
53
Women Living and Working Overseas
15
Working Vacation Resources
55