I’m Sean, a junior in college, and a first time study abroad student. I am studying abroad at London South Bank University for this semester. As I’m abroad, I’ll be sharing my adventures, experiences, lessons, (and maybe even mishaps!) as I venture through my semester across the world. Please be sure to check back in and follow my posts on Twitter with the hashtag #SeanAbroad.
In my last post, I was midway through my European trip and had just arrived in Florence, Italy. After finishing up my trip in Athens and then the island of Santorini, I realized how nerve racking and confusing the modes of traveling can be to someone who is studying abroad and hasn’t traveled by themselves before.
This post will be what about what I experienced and hopefully, some give helpful advice when in an airport, train station or even looking for a taxi while studying abroad.
I’ll start by talking about airports because flying is the way most people will travel while studying abroad. Airports in Europe are similar to airports in the US but also very different. One thing that is different is the time in advance you should show up for your flight. In the US, you usually get to the airport two hours early, maybe even three just to make sure you get through security. In European airports, if you arrive 3 hours early, you will be waiting a long time. Gates for flights don’t usually open and start boarding until less then a half and hour before the flight is scheduled to take off. This happened to me when flying from Rome to Athen and I found this out the hard way when I had to run to board my first plane of the trip. Before you get to the gate, however, you have to get through security. This can be easy if you are prepared by keeping your travel-sized liquids easy to grab and not wear a lot of metal when traveling. This is also something I’ve learned the hard way. The first few flights I was holding up the line taking my belt and watch off while finding my liquids in my suitcase. If you are prepared and get there on time, you can conquer European airports. And when you do visit Santorini, its beautiful.
Another type of travel you are, most likely, going to encounter while abroad are trains. Trains seem simple, you get to the platform, get on the train and relax, right? Well, they actually can be even more confusing then planes! Train stations are usually confusing because different trains going to different places might stop on the same platform. My advice is to always ask someone where your train is and if you are getting on the right train. This will save you the embarrassment of walking on to multiple wrong trains. Also, always check to see what you need for a ticket. A lot of companies are starting to use e-tickets but some still want a machine printed one. A friend of mine didn’t save the code for her ticket to the airport in Rome. She didn’t have any internet and was forced to spend more money for a new ticket. Trains are a great way to travel because you get to see a lot more of the country you are traveling through. Taking the high-speed train through Italy was beautiful. Once you get off the train your going to need to get places within a city.
That’s where taxis come in.
Taxis can be both great and sketchy at the same time. They can be very useful in places where you are there for only a day or two and haven’t been able to get a sense of direction. In Athens, they were perfect because we weren’t going far and there are a lot of small streets. Though you do need to be careful, as a lot of taxi drivers know you are a foreigner and will hike up the fair. This happened in Athens when the taxi drivers wanted 55 euro to take us to the airport. We told the hostel and they told us that they were trying to rip us off. Though sometimes it might be worth it when you need to get home late at night. Definitely take a cab just to be safe.
When traveling while studying abroad it’s better to know the ins and outs of the different ways of traveling. Knowing about European airports can save you time to see more when flying from Rome. Asking train conductors can help you not miss your train and be stuck in Florence. And knowing taxis can save you from being ripped off by taxi drivers in Athens. This knowledge will help make your travels easier and help lower your nerves when in a foreign place such as Athens or Rome for the first time.
Stay tuned for my next post and follow #SeanAbroad on GoEnnounce!
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