First, let me start by introducing myself. Though, some of you may have already seen me on the Meet the Gators page, some of you might have missed me. So if you’re in that group, hey! It’s nice to meet y’all via UF Blog From Abroad! My name is Brittany Kinney, and I am studying with the FYCS study abroad program, UF in Frankfurt (Oder). Now, I may seem like I have it together now…or at least I hope I do since I’m just a few days away from leaving, but in the beginning, I had no idea what was going on. In case any of you are in my same boat, here’s some helpful tips on what to do before you cross the pond!
We all had that same moment, the one moment where everything changed and suddenly you were going abroad. For me, it happened quite quickly. I was dreading going in to an advising appoint with Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. But with a little encouragement, I sucked it up and went in anyways. Though my main goal for this appointment was just to add a minor, Kathryn Ivey mentioned study abroad to me. Of course travel always sounded good, but studying while trying to adventure? No, thanks. Reluctantly, I listened to what she had to say about the program options, and one in particular stood out to me: UF in Frankfurt (Oder).
She went on to explain the wonderful experiences students have as they get to dive deep into another culture and learn about family life for Germans. Dr. Victor Harris is the professor who leads the program, and he happened to walk by just as we were talking about this opportunity. Long story short, I went home that day, applied to the program, paid my deposit, and a week later got my official letter saying that I was going to Germany.
Now is when all the planning comes in to play. First of all, I haven’t been abroad since I was an infant. Clearly, I have no idea what I am needing to do. So for any of you, who are like me, need to know what to do next, here ya go!
1. Passports! The first thing you need to do when going abroad is to get your passport made or renewed. Not only is this something you’ll obviously need, it will solidify in your mind that this is real. You’re actually going abroad!
2. Luggage! Though this may be a no brainer, let me explain. Sure, obviously we’re not doing this traveling the “Polish way” as my grandma would say—for those of you who aren’t Polish, the “Polish suitcase” is garbage bags. My family of course owns luggage, but it’s SO heavy. When you’re working with a weight limit (50 lbs for my American Airline flights and 38 lbs for my Aer Lingus flight), you don’t need a suitcase that weighs ten pounds. Trust me, you’ll want the extra weight for clothes and souvenirs.
3. A Backpack! When in Europe, you’re going to want to make the most out of your trip, so excursions are a must! For me, I have two free weekends, and I am hoping to go to Paris, Amsterdam, and Switzerland. For these few day trips, you aren’t going to want to bring your big suitcase from before, you’ll need a smaller bag to just throw two outfits, a toothbrush, some deodorant, and your passport in!
4. Excursion Planning! Like I just mentioned, excursions are definitely something that should be on your mind. If you’re planning to go to some more popular destinations, pre-planning for where you stay may be needed. Although you can always find hostels at great prices, Air BnB has proven to be a good resource for me so far.
5. Bucket List it! In order to fully prepare, plan, and dream about your upcoming study abroad, I highly recommend making a bucket list. See what’s near where you’re studying and find foods from that culture. When you start to have a written game plan for your trip, it becomes easier to decide what are you “Have To” sees and what are your “If We Have Time.” This also is a great tool to plan out your spending while you’re over there. So for about $30 USD, I’ll ~hopefully~ be making my way over to the World’s Largest Coffee Pot in Selb, Germany at some point during my trip!
Now that you know the basics of how to prepare to go, good luck. I hope you’ll join me on my journey abroad, and I look forward to hearing about your trips in the future!