Studying abroad and traveling are made easier and stress-free thanks to the many advance in technology and the useful gadgets we have available to us. Review our list of seven electronic gadgets to add to your packing list for your travels abroad.
If you want to be able to use your phone abroad, we would not recommend paying for an international plan with your American provider. These plans are often times costly and provide questionable service in Europe. Instead, have your phone carrier unlock your phone so you can pop in a European sim card. European phone plans are typically less expensive than American plans and you can pay on a monthly basis for as low at €10 or €15 a month for internet data and calling. Using an European sim card abroad is even easier now that most plans allow your phone to work in all countries within the European Union.
A portable charger is the the electronic gadget you didn't realize you need, and once you have it you won't know how you lived without it before. Portable chargers allow you to charge all your electronics on the go so you can travel stress-free and not have to worry about finding an open outlet to charge your phone or camera.
A universal adaptor allows you to bring one useful adaptor abroad that will work in all the destinations you travel to. Be sure to purchase a converter if your electronic chargers are not dual voltage, as this will convert the voltage without frying your device.
If you're planning on reading while you're abroad, paper books will take up too much precious luggage space that you can't afford to lose. That doesn't mean you shouldn't read during your time abroad, so an e-reader is a perfect solution. Amazon Kindle has several different e-readers at various affordable prices, and typically the e-books are cheaper than their paper counterparts for those on a budget.
There are few things more stressful when traveling than being worried that your luggage is overweight. You don't want to be surprised by an overweight luggage fee at the airport, so do yourself a favor and purchase a luggage scale in advance of heading abroad.
Noise-canceling headphones are an absolute lifesaver for studying and traveling abroad. Whether you want to block out noise and distractions while studying or be able to fall asleep easily while on the train or bus to your next destination, invest in quality noise-canceling headphones and thank us later.
The reality is that there are certain places and activities we would not recommend bringing your phone, such as swimming the ocean or hiking up a mountain. Get yourself an action camera that is built to withstand the elements so your memories aren't limited to where you're able to take your phone.
While there are a number of benefits and valuable experiences to be gained from studying abroad, there are also inherent risks that students and programs are exposed to. In order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your students, learn about the three must-have risk management procedures.
Require Travel and Medical Insurance
Many study abroad programs include a certain level of travel and/or medical insurance, but it’s important to ensure that your students are fully covered when they head overseas. To guarantee that your students are adequately equipped with travel and medical insurance, your program or university can offer full-coverage options or require that students provide proof of insurance before they depart.
Options students can consider:
Speak with your current insurance provider to see if they include international coverage, or if it is possible to add this on for an additional cost during the duration of the program.
Research supplemental insurance plans for your time abroad. There are many insurance providers who specifically provide additional insurance for traveling abroad.
Include Safety Training in Program Orientation
For a large percentage of study abroad students, their time abroad will be their first experience living in a foreign country. It is an essential responsibility of the study abroad program staff or professors to provide the necessary information in regard to safety and legalities students should be aware of during their stay.
Recommended included trainings:
Provide an introduction to the local laws and customs. Study abroad students should not be in situations where they are in hot water simply because they were uninformed of the laws within their host country and city. Educate your students on the major legal differences that need to be aware of most.
Present an overview on tips and relevant information for traveling safely within the country and throughout Europe. Many students will be traveling during their time abroad, which is a different experience than traveling throughout the U.S., so including helpful information on how to travel safely is crucial.
Have Staff Available 24/7
Having program staff available via a 24/7 emergency phone line, for both students and parents, ensures that your program is accessible to handle any problem that may arise. The staff member on call can address the issue immediately or escalate through the organization’s emergency protocol when necessary.
Have questions about risk management for your specific program? Contact us.
Study abroad was traditionally reserved for liberal arts students studying language, fine arts, history and other similar subjects, but not anymore. More and more university students studying a variety of subjects are expanding their world and participating in study abroad programs during their college years. In fact, according to NAFSA data, between the 2015-2016 academic year participation in study abroad programs grew 3.8 percent, from 313,415 students to 325,339 students.
If your business students still have their doubts about studying abroad, show them these five irrefutable reasons why they should study abroad.
1. Gain a new perspective
As we’ve learned, our world is becoming more and more globalized with each passing year. Although you might learn about international business and how to adapt to a ever changing global economy in the classroom, arguably the best way to learn about these topics is to experience them firsthand. Many study abroad programs today are developed for a variety of business majors and set-up internships or visits to relevant international businesses. Students are able to learn directly from international business professionals and gain a new global perspective that they can apply to their future studies and careers.
Additionally, studies have shown that studying and living abroad increases self-concept clarity. Self-concept clarity is defined as an individual’s understanding of themself, people with a high self-concept clarity would agree that they have a clear sense of who they are. A person’s understanding of themself helps translate to the workplace as they are able to project a consistent self-image to their co-workers, leading to a higher level of understanding amongst their colleagues and therefore results in a more efficient work environment.
2. Build applicable skills
There is a particularly important set of skills is the valuable byproduct of studying, known as transversal skills. According to the Erasmus Impact Study, 92 percent of employers are looking for applicants with transversal skills such as curiosity, problem-solving, tolerance and confidence. In that same study, 81 percent of study abroad students stated that they perceived an improvement in their transversal skills after they returned home. These types of skills are tested and enhanced through study abroad experiences and lead us into our next reason why business students should seek out an international education.
3. Decrease chances of unemployment
Students can set themselves apart from other applicants when entering the workforce by having study abroad or international experience listed on their resume. Based on the aforementioned Erasmus Impact Study, 64 percent of employers think international experience is important for recruitment, which is an huge jump from 2006 when just 37 percent of employers who felt this was an important factor for hiring. Today’s job market is incredibly competitive with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the last ten years. Therefore, anything that students can do to stand out when applying for jobs is going to give them a competitive edge. In fact, study abroad students reported a 23 percent lower unemployment rate compared to those students who did not.
“…I had a 3.9 GPA, I interviewed for five different internship positions and I couldn’t land a single internship. I studied abroad for a year, I came back to the states, and the first two internships I interviewed for I got offers from both … And my whole interview … all they did was ask me about my time abroad.”
The findings of this study strongly suggest that study abroad programs that clearly articulate career-focused goals help students to identify the skills they will learn abroad. Additionally, this helps students to understand how they can articulate to potential employers later on how these skills were learned and will transfer to their future work.
4. Improve chances of living and working abroad
If your students are interested in a career in international business or the possibility of living and working abroad in the future, studying abroad is highly recommended. Based on the findings of the Erasmus study, students who study abroad are 17 percent more likely to move to another country after graduation than students who don’t study abroad. Students who expose themselves to an international experience while at university can also more easily envision themselves living abroad again in the future.
5. Make international connections
Similarly, studying abroad can lead to students making international connections both with business contacts and other study abroad students. Their experience abroad will allow them to reach an entirely new set of individuals who may be an integral part of their education or future career. Business students would benefit from seeking out opportunities that connect them to international organizations or offer internships throughout their time abroad. They say that a key pillar of business is about who you know, and you never know who you your students might meet while studying abroad.
As a study abroad professional who is working with prospective study abroad students, you listen to the common excuses and concerns that are shared by many students about studying abroad. We’re sure you’ve hear a laundry list of reasons why a student is trying to talk themselves out of studying abroad or has suddenly gotten “cold feet.”
We’re tackling these top 3 excuses that students have when convincing themselves to not study abroad, and arming you with the facts about why these common excuses shouldn’t stop them from pursuing an international program.
1. “Studying abroad is too expensive.”
The cost of study abroad is generally the main concern for prospective students who are unable to cover the costs of their time abroad out of pocket. Many students do not wish to take on an excess of debt or additional loans to cover the program fees for their study abroad program, therefore deterring them from studying abroad at all.
Why Cost Shouldn’t Stop Students From Studying Abroad
Being realistic while in college about finances and the amount of debt a student takes on is smart and we definitely don’t recommend they stretch themselves outside of their means or financial comfort zone to afford their study abroad. But, there are many options and alternatives to assist university students to achieve their dream and go abroad.
Scholarships and grants – There are so many opportunities for scholarships and grants specifically for study abroad students and programs. Students can do research into scholarships and grants available through specific study abroad programs, or other options that are offered outside of those by private organizations. If they are involved in any national or global student associations, these typically offer scholarship opportunities too and would be a good place to recommend they look.
Short-term programs – If the cost of a year-long or semester study abroad program is too much, students should consider a more affordable short-term program. Many universities and study abroad providers offer programs of various length, as short as one week or ten days. Due to their shorter length, these programs are typically significantly cheaper and therefore a great option for students who are strapped for funds.
Financial aid – Have your students check if their current university financial aid can be applied to study abroad in place of home university fees. This can help offset the additional cost of the program fee.
2. “I won’t graduate on time.”
Although, we all never want college to end (seriously, take us back!), an additional semester or year at university is out of the question for many students. A common objection to studying abroad is that students believe they will delay their graduation resulting in missing out on sharing their important day with their friends, as well as the additional cost of another semester of school and related expenses.
Why Studying Abroad Won’t Stop Students From Graduating On Time
Take classes that fulfill general credits – The best way to keep your students on track while they’re abroad is to have them enroll in courses that will fulfill their general education requirements of their degree. We recommend getting the courses pre-approved before going abroad to ensure a smooth transition back to your home university.
Choose a J-Term, May term or summer session program – If your students don’t have time to fit a full semester into their current degree track, consider an alternative study abroad option. January term, May term or summer sessions can allow your students to participate on the ideal study abroad for a shorter length of time without interrupting their planned class schedule. There may also be options for short-term programs that can be applied toward their major that we also recommend exploring.
3. “I’ll miss my family and friends.”
While we know that it can be scary and difficult for students to leave their family and friends behind to study abroad, it is well worth the experience and benefits they’ll gain abroad. We know just how to talk to your students about their fears around leaving their loved ones to go abroad.
Why Missing Friends and Family Shouldn’t Stop Students From Studying Abroad
Study abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity – In case your students have forgotten why they wanted to study abroad in the first place, remind them that it’s because of the amazing and unique experience that they will obtain and to keep this in mind when making their decision.
They will make friends while abroad – We consistently hear from past study abroad students that the friends they made during their program have remained some of the closest friendships they carry with them for the rest of their lives. Whether they meet new friends through their housing and roommates, or school clubs and extracurricular activities, study abroad brings together students from similar age groups presenting a multitude of opportunities for them to meet new friends.
Technology makes it easy to connect back home – Thankfully, we live in a world with advanced technology that allows students to contact their friends and family back home with the touch of a button. Through apps like WhatsApp for messaging or social media platforms like Facebook, students are never more than a message away from their loved ones. Skype and FaceTime allow them to call all of their friends and family whenever they’d like (taking the time zone differences into consideration of course).
Ensuring your students have the ultimate study abroad experience requires your study abroad program and faculty to be involved before, during, and yes, even after the program has ended. Take a look at these ten ways to guarantee you can deliver the best study abroad program for your students.
Before They Go
1. Send out helpful resources and materials
Help your students feel like they’ve ticked all the boxes before going abroad, by providing them with some pre-departure materials related to their study abroad program.
A few examples:
Packing lists– Depending on where they’re headed and the duration of their program, you should provide them with a general packing list that will have them covered (literally), for their time abroad.
Financial tips – Surprisingly, not many students look much into how they will be spending abroad, what the currency conversion rate is and how they will be able to control their costs. A rundown of the current exchange rate, along with recommendations for travel credit cards, and instructions on how to contact their bank regarding foreign transaction fees, will help the students be able to start their program without the stress of unexpected financial issues.
City guides – An intro guide to their new city and neighborhood in which they will be staying, will undoubtedly ease some of the anxiety that is normal when it comes to gearing up for a study abroad program.
2. Organize time to have 1-to-1 chats if needed
When you are sending out your pre-departure materials to your students, include in your message that you are available to talk via email or set-up phone calls if they would like to talk through any of their questions or concerns before heading abroad. The relief of knowing they will have experienced before and during their program will put many students at ease.
3. Set up a group Facebook page
A great way to introduce all of your program students to each other prior to meeting in person, is to set up a program Facebook group. This will allow students to have a forum with their peers where they can post questions before and during their study abroad program.
During The Program
4. Assist in setting up European phone plans
We would recommend informing students in advance of their arrival of any phone plans that your program or university is including or has a special deal in place that they have the option of purchasing. Additionally, it is important that they are aware if they want to insert a foreign SIM card into their American phone, they will likely need to have their phone unlocked by their current carrier prior to going abroad.
With all of that being said, once students arrive in their study abroad city, it should be a priority within the first several days to get students set-up with temporary phones and/or SIM cards. This is helpful for them as they can use their phones to assist navigating and researching while they’re out exploring, but also for your program as you will have a working phone number to contact them at.
5. Require students keep a journal (or blog)
Requiring students to keep a journal may sound like a tall order, but we can promise that your students will thank you for it in the future. Studying abroad is a tidal wave of new experiences, sensations and emotions all at the same time, and although pictures will help capture their memories, the process of documenting their time abroad through their own words will be a cherished momento once they have returned home.
In today’s world this could also be a blog or digital diary instead of a handwritten journal. Either way, we highly recommend that all study abroad students document their experience in one way or another.
6. Include cultural and recreational excursions
Outside of the classroom there is a plethora of opportunity to have your students experience the culture of their study abroad destination. Studying in Italy? Try truffle-hunting or olive oil tasting. France? A traditional french cooking class. The options are truly endless and allow your students to experience the country’s unique culture while having some fun. These options can be included in their program fees or students can be given the option to sign-up.
7. Arrange affordable options for weekend getaways
In addition to the cultural excursions we just mentioned, there is the opportunity to arrange weekend getaways both within the study abroad country and throughout Europe that will add value to your program. Students can sign-up and pay for these weekend trips that can include as much or as little as you choose to organize.
These trips not only add value to your program and enhance your student’s time abroad, but they also provide an added level of security for your program as you know your students are safely traveling on trips you have planned.
Interested in learning how 4.0 Tours can assist your program with optional or included weekend tours? Submit your contact information below for a free call with a 4.0 Tours manager.
8. Provide opportunities to immerse in the local culture
Furthermore, your program should strive to have students who are interacting and immersing themselves in the local culture as frequently as possible. You can set-up language exchange nights with students from local universities, or organize recreational sports nights where students can partake in the activity. The more that your students are exposed to the local culture and language, the great benefit they will obtain from their time abroad.
After They Return Home
9. Add students to study abroad alumni groups
Just because your study abroad program has ended, doesn’t mean your relationship with your students has to! Continue the relationship and their connection to your study abroad program by adding them to alumni networking groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, as well as adding their email address to future communications targeted for former students.
10. Tap previous students to write about their experience abroad
Reach out to recent students and see if they’re interested in writing blog posts to share on your program website. This helps students who are looking to have their work published online and add more program involvement to their resume, as well as help future students who are considering studying abroad through your program.
Among the many reasons why students choose to study abroad, we can confidently guess that a desire to travel and see the world is at the top of the list for a majority of study abroad students. As a study abroad professional or professor working with students studying in Europe, it is valuable to leverage your unique position to incorporate supplemental travel into your program or coursework. If you’re wondering how you can travel Europe with a group of students, we’re sharing our top tips and industry secrets on organizing group travel within your study abroad country or to other countries within Europe or North Africa.
This one may seem obvious, but we felt obligated to include it on our list. Planning ahead is the best way to secure your ideal itinerary for group travel. You may have been told that you are unable to book certain aspects of your travel prior to a specified date, but that should not stop you from obtaining quotes and estimated costs before you are able to confirm all the details. The further in advance that you can plan your travel, the better the likelihood that there will be availability for your group for accommodation, transportation, tours and sight visits, and anything else you want to include.
Planning ahead also allows time for any necessary internal reviews and approvals by your program or university. Typically, in order to receive approval for your group travel your organization is going to want to see an itinerary and the associated costs that are as finalized as possible before giving you the greenlight.
Take Advantage of Student or Group Discounts
Fortunately, many sights and museums that you will want to visit with your students will offer a student or group discount. This can help offset any cost or budget restrictions you are facing when planning your travel. Often times student discounts will apply if all students have their student ID when traveling, otherwise you can look into international student discount cards such as the International Student Identity Card, which they can then use during their independent travels as well to save some valuable euros.
Consider Alternative Transportation and Accommodation Options
Although we all appreciate a 4-star hotel, for student group travel you may be able to find better options that have all the necessary amenities for your students and yourself. A great option for group travel is hostels, which can provide private or shared dormitory options in top knotch locations and very comfortable amenities. Considering that you will likely only be in your accommodation to sleep and have breakfast in the morning, hostel pricing can be a huge budget-saver for your travels. Another option to consider is accommodations that may not be directly in the city-center, but are close to fast and easy public transportation.
When it comes to alternative modes of transportation, private buses and trains can provide immense cost savings for your group. Additionally, with the prevalence of low-cost airlines in Europe, if you are able to book for your group far in advance you may be able to secure your tickets at unbeatable pricing. In sum, when it comes to transportation and accommodation for your group travel, don’t limit your options and seek all possible alternatives that will fit your schedule and budget without compromising on experience and quality.
Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate
This tip may make you feel uncomfortable having to barter over price for your group travels, but the potential cost savings are worth it, we promise. When it comes to accommodation, transportation, group meals and tours, there is often times some wiggle room for negotiating a group rate with the provider. Whether you’re able to have breakfast be included with the nightly room rate, or having unlimited beverages included with your group dinners, these seemingly small costs can add up so speaking with the provider about throwing in some added-value is a big help.
Smart business owners know that if they’re willing to work with you on these small concessions that you will be more likely to come back to them for future trips and build a lasting partnership. Building relationships with partners in Europe is a great way to make planning your group travel simpler and more comfortable in the future.
Partner With a Tour Operator
If you don’t have experience planning student group travel in the past, the process can seem like an endless list of to-dos on top of your existing responsibilities for your position. Even the most seasoned independent traveler may not be familiar with the process of organizing travel for a group, big or small. There are many details to consider to ensure a smooth travel experience that provides the best trip possible for you and your students.
You can find an operator or provider who can provide as much or as little support as you desire. Whether you want them to organize just transportation and accommodation, or would like for them to plan the entire travel experience, tour operators are a great option for those who want to ensure the details of the travel are handled. Additionally, many operators are able to secure better rates for your group due to their experience in the industry. If you’re interested in learning more on how to select the right tour operator for your group travel, we’ve mapped out the 4 steps to selecting the partner that is right for you on our blog.
If you’re interested in speaking with us about planning your group travel, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.
The process of finding the right tour provider or operator for your study abroad can seem daunting, even more so if it is your first time organizing a student program abroad. Find out the main steps you'll take to select the tour operator that fits your specific program and sets both you and your students up for success during their time abroad.
1. Determine Your Program Needs
The first step in selecting a tour operator is to first define what your program needs are, as well as your wish list items. There is a difference between what you need for your program and what you would like for your program based on both time and financial constraints.
A few examples of needs and wants to brainstorm about before moving onto step two:
Next, once you have a better idea of what you would like your program to look like, it's time to start researching your options. How can you go about researching tour providers that fit your expectations?
Recommended ways to research tour operators:
Recommendations from colleagues or study abroad contacts
After you've done some preliminary research, you should have been able to find a few providers that you can put on your short list as potential partners for your program.
3. Contact The Providers
Once you've narrowed down your options, it's time to start contacting the providers. These organization's should be willing and able to speak with you at no cost – extra bonus points if they will give you a free quote for your desired program too. When speaking with tour providers and operators, be sure to keep your needs and wants list in mind and confirm the information you discovered during your research, while finding out additional information you might have missed.
If you're unsure what are the most important questions to ask, check out our free guide The 7 Best Questions To Ask When Choosing a Tour Provider.
4. Choose Your Provider
Finally, after careful and thorough research you can choose your tour provider for your study abroad program! Be sure to check all the agreed-upon details and ensure that you and your selected provider are on the same page regarding all aspects of your program. The more information that can be finalized up front will result in less back and forth, and potential road bumps in the future.
If you’re planning your program in Europe and want to visit destinations that are overlooked or less ‘touristy’, we understand and we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of 5 destinations in Europe that you may not have considered before, but are just as incredible as the more frequented cities.
1. Budapest, Hungary
Although Budapest is becoming a more popular destination amongst Europeans, it is still a less common destination in Europe for American tourists. With a storied history, Budapest has connections dating back to the Roman Empire. The city as seen today was formed through the joining of Buda, Pest and Old Buda, in 1873. The story of the city does not end there, as Hungary was involved in World War II during which time Budapest was severely damaged.
Can’t Miss Sights
Hungarian Parliament Building – The world’s third largest parliament building and an example of stunning Neo-Gothic architecture.
Heroes’ Square – The monument features the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars, who are thought to have led the Hungarian people from central Asia to the Carpathian basin.
Memento Park – Established in 1993, the park is home to many of the cities Communist era statues.
Citadella – Built by the Hapsburgs and sitting atop Gellert Hill, the former fort is now home to a museum.
2. Split, Croatia
If you’re looking to go to Croatia, check out Split instead of Dubrovnik. The city, situated on the Dalmatian coast, is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace. A tumultuous history led Split to once be held during various periods by the Roman Empire, Venice, Austria, and France. Part of the former Yugoslavia, Split became an official city of Croatia in 1992.
Can’t Miss Sights
Diocletian’s Palace – The 1700 year old palace is one of the most important architectural heritage of the Roman Empire.
St. Domnius Tower – Climb the tower 13th century tower for unbeatable city views.
Day Trip to Trogir – Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trogir shares a storied history that is intertwined with that of Split.
Temple of Jupiter – Originally, this was an ancient Roman temple dedicated to the king of the gods, Jupiter.
3. Bologna, Italy
The capital of the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, is often passed up for the more famous cities of Florence or Venice. Not to discredit how amazing Florence or Venice are, but Bologna is a must. This incredible region is home to parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto. The history of this city dates back 3,000 years and has been touched by the Greeks, Phoencians, Etruscans, Gauls, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, and Lombards, so you could say there is a bit of a history to modern-day Bologna.
Can’t Miss Sights
Asinelli Tower – Standing taller than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, this 11th century tower is worth the 498 steps to the top.
Archiginnasio – This famous site is home to the first seat of the University of Bologna, which is the oldest university of the Western world, founded in 1088.
Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca – Perched atop San Luca, this sanctuary was built in the 18th century. It is connected to the city walls by the world’s longest portico, held up by 666 arches, beginning at Piazza di Porta Saragozza.
4. Valencia, Spain
The capital of both the province and autonomous community of Valencia, this less-popular Spanish city is located on the Mediterranean coast. Once a flourishing Roman colony, this city saw many rulers throughout its history and many of these influences can still be seen today.
Can’t Miss Sights
City of the Arts and Sciences – Pictured above, the ultra-modern structure was completed in 2005 and designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. It is the largest complex of its kind in Europe.
El Miguelete – Climb the tower to visit Miguel at the top, the famous 10-ton bell.
La Lonja de la Seda – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and beautiful example of Valencian gothic architecture.
Valencia Cathedral – Inside the cathedral you will find the Chapel of the Holy Chalice. The altar has a chalices that allegedly was used by Jesus to institute the Holy Eucharist at the last supper.
5. Salzburg, Austria
Smaller and less popular than Vienna, Salzburg is just as incredible and you should know about it. The city is home to world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born there in 1756. Like many European cities, Salzburg was not exempt from the impacts WWII and was heavily damaged during the conflicts, with over 50 percent of residences destroyed. You might recognize the city from its fame brought on by The Sound of Music, which was filmed here in the 1960s.
Can’t Miss Sights
Hohensalzburg Castle – Otherwise known as the Salzburg Fortress, the castle was originally built in 1077 and sits atop the city.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens – The beautiful gardens are open to visit and admire the Baroque masterpiece.
Mozart’s Birthplace – Now a museum, take a tour lasting about an hour through original rooms documenting Mozart’s life.
Salzburg Old Town – A UNESCO World Heritage Site, also called Altstadt, contains a large number of the city’s sights.