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Studying Abroad

10 Things You Should Know Before Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be one of the most eye opening and life changing events in a student’s career. It’s exciting and filled with new experiences, which can also be a bit daunting. Here’s the top things you should know before studying abroad, and how to prepare for your trip.

1. Take responsibility for the safety of your belongings and have a backup plan.

Studying abroad may be the first time you’re really traveling solo for a long period of time. This means that you don’t have the safety net of your parents there to take care of big things like lost or stolen luggage. Have all your bags clearly marked with your name and email address, and store important names, phone numbers and copies of your passport in secure cloud storage.

Research what common crimes there may be in the area, such as pickpocketing techniques and purse theft so that you can be more aware, and invest in practical bags like this Anti-theft Waterproof Travel bag from Arden Cove. With features like slash resistance, locking zippers, RFID-blocking material and waterproof materials, you will be protected from purse slashers, thieves using scanners, pickpockets and unpredictable weather!

 2. Research the country you are traveling to.

Everyone has stereotypical ideas of people in other countries, but they’re often not true. Be more open and sensitive by learning about the culture and customs before you land. What is the common etiquette of people who live there? How do they act in public? How do they dress? By learning these things and practicing their customs, you have the chance to gain another perspective by looking through their eyes. Also check out travel.state.gov to see the “Safety and Security” advice for the country you are going to. Whatever happens, Arden Cove Travel bags can help keep things organized and secure.

3. Learn a few key phrases before you leave.

Knowing some phrases will come in handy if you meet someone who doesn’t speak English, and almost everyone will appreciate the fact that you took the time and effort to learn their language as a guest to their country. If you have the time to, taking a language class before and during your time abroad will really help you become conversational. If you’re serious about improving your language skills you’ll have to put in a lot of time studying and practicing, so don’t be shy!

4. Pack light.

You might be tempted to pack everything you might ever possibly need for the duration of your study abroad, but the truth is you will probably never actually need most things. Prioritize items that will realistically need and a few emergency items like a basic first aid kit. You’ll be thankful when you’re not trying to roll two luggage bags and a duffle bag though a packed train station. The Arden Cove crossbodies are also great to keep all your essentials like credit cards and cash handy and safe.

5. Have a budget in mind.

Learn the local currency and the conversion rate to US dollars so that you don’t spend blindly and blow through your budget. Make sure your credit card doesn’t come with any crazy international fees and call your bank ahead of time so that they won’t flag it as suspicious international transactions. While you don’t want to carry a ton of cash around with you, make sure you have enough to get through the day and lock up the rest somewhere safe.

6. Use your student card to get discounts on things like transportation, accommodations, and entertainment.

Every time you have to pay for tickets for a museum or show, it doesn’t hurt to ask if there’s a student discount. This will help you stretch your budget so you can travel and do more! Arden Cove purses have built-in wallets so save a card slot for your student ID.

7. Prepare to be a bit uncomfortable.

You can pack an eye mask, ear plugs, and an inflatable pillow to save yourself some restless nights. But you’ll never know what will happen when you walk into the dorm, stay at a hostel, or nap at the airport.

8. Challenge yourself to try new things.

You’ll be introduced to a ton of new foods and ways of living, so be open and receptive to trying new things. Even if a dish’s ingredients sound strange or unsavory, you’ll never know until you try, and it might even grow on you. Enjoy these moments of surprise when studying abroad and wonder as they may be some of the highlights of your journey!

9. There are always going to be tons of things you want to explore right outside your door, but you do actually have to study and do your classwork.

Some programs may be easier than others, but remember that the whole reason you decided to study abroad is to take classes at a foreign institution. At the same time, you should take advantage of your surroundings and not just stay cooped in your room cramming for tests. Find a balance between doing your school work and going out to learn about this new place you are in.

10. You’ll probably get lost a lot when studying abroad, and that’s OK.

From bad GPS signals to misunderstood directions, you’ll probably wander in the wrong direction more than once. Don’t panic and take your time to figure it out, even if you need to ask for help from a stranger. Perhaps it’ll be how you’ll stumble upon your favorite place in the whole city. Remember that despite even if you had a bad day, you got lost, or made a mistake, you’ll learn that you can figure it out.

 In the end, your study abroad trip will be whatever you decide to make of it. It’s up to you to decide what you want to experience, and to design the trip in a way that’s most meaningful to you. Have fun and enjoy! It’s your chance to step outside your comfort zone and live your own adventure.

To have more piece of mind, pick up an Anti-theft Waterproof bag, which will protect your belongings from purse snatching and slashing, pickpockets, electronic theft, and sudden downpours. Shop ArdenCove.com to purchase your travel bag today.

Spring Break 2018

Spring Break Destinations

After a strenuous academic term, get some much-needed R&R—check out our top destinations for your next spring break.

During the academic year, most of us dream about our next exhilarating travel excursion. Be inspired by our collection of destinations that incorporate fun, sun and adventure—perfect for a spring or summer getaway.

Cancún, Mexico

Cancún is a vibrant city that lies on the Yucatán Peninsula, bordering the Caribbean Sea. Best known for its turquoise lagoons, magnificent beaches and buzzing nightlife, it makes for an ideal de-stress vacation. Days can be spent sampling the local cuisine; street food vendors serve up delectable soups and tacos that are easy on the wallet and packed with flavor. Diving is another popular pursuit in Cancún, with the Museo Subacuático de Arte being the main attraction. This one-of-a-kind underwater display was built as a way of diverting divers from the area’s deteriorating coral reefs—it features more than 500 intricate life-size sculptures. In the evening, visitors can head down to the notorious hotel zone: where the tequila is poured freely and the parties don’t end until sunrise.

Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand

Ko Pha-Ngan is an island positioned off the Central Gulf Coast of southern Thailand and is characterised by its luscious coconut trees and stunning seashores. While Ko Pha-Ngan is unquestionably idyllic, it is not necessarily a place of rest. Made famous by its monthly full moon parties, Ko Pha-Ngan is the perfect place to let your hair down during spring break. Flamethrowers, authentic dancers and world-class DJs are the biggest draws that beckon crowds of young tourists each year. Most boisterous festivities are centered on Sunrise Beach, while the northern coast is comparatively more peaceful. The island also offers an intriguing night market, spectacular waterfall hikes and secluded viewpoints to enjoy the ebbing sunset. Crystal clear waters also make snorkeling and scuba diving a popular pastime for visitors.

New Orleans, USA

There is a gritty, palpable and unmistakable air that flows through streets of New Orleans: this indescribable charisma solidifies it as an unmissable destination. Thriving food joints offer indulgent delicacies: gumbo, biegnets and po’ boy sandwiches are all must-try dishes. New Orleans also has an interesting history that dates back hundreds of years, which is demonstrated by the French-inspired architecture and colonial builds of the area. The supernatural also plays a major role in the culture; voodoo preachers and tarot card readers offer their expertise to fascinated newcomers. Above all, the locals know how to throw a damn good party. While Mardi Gras is the main festival to draw in the crowds, parades and celebrations occur practically every week of the year. With hometown jazz flowing from the cafés and bars, we compel you not to get swept up in the magic of it all this spring break.

 Utila, Honduras

Located near the south end of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system, Utila is the smallest of Honduras’ major Bay Islands. But what Utila lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in character. With very few roads, Utila is only accessible by boat, making it the perfect retreat for city dwellers. This picturesque island is crawling with dive-obsessed backpackers in search of a good time. While recent diving taxes mean that courses aren’t quite as cheap as they once were, visitors often jump at the chance to see the juvenile whale sharks that frequent these waters. Otherwise, days can be spent soaking up the rays from a hammock or strolling along the white sands of the curving bay. As darkness falls, the island suddenly springs to life; exotic beach bars and clubs resonate with lively music and a distinctly youthful vibe.

South Padre Island, USA

South Padre Island—which is nestled at the southernmost tip of Texas—undoubtedly has the “school’s out” feeling. Throughout the summer months, the coast’s Gulf breeze poses a welcome reprieve from the scorching heat of the mainland. During which time, the local bars buzz with a hive of fun-seeking visitors throughout the day and night. Live events often take place on the beachfront, with stages drawing considerable crowds. Meanwhile, regular party cruises set sail each day, allowing voyagers to mingle and meet new faces. Apart from its energetic party scene, South Padre Island makes a point of contributing to animal conservation. The Sea Turtle, Inc. center facilitates the recovery of injured animals and organizes educational programs for tourists. The island is especially suited to adventure junkies; the tranquil water conditions enable a wealth of watersports such as jet skiing, parasailing and kiteboarding.

Travel responsibly

Before selecting your spring break destination, always be sure to read up on the culture of the natives—respecting local customs can help tourism to prosper. Try to use the native tongue where possible, recite some key expressions and bring a phrasebook for reference.

Further reading: 6 Surprising Travel Destinations for 2018

Surprising Travel Destinations for 2018

6 Surprising Travel Destinations for 2018

College News explores the weird, wonderful and somewhat surprising travel destinations for 2018 that are drawing travelers in from far and wide. This year holds the possibility for new adventures, eye-opening experiences and unimaginable excitement. Take the first step and check out these travel destinations—you won’t regret it.

Bolivia

The first of our travel destinations is Bolivia, a landlocked country bordered by Peru, Chile and Brazil. At present, it remains one of the most overlooked countries in South America—we are here to change that. It may be a little rough around the edges, but don’t let that fool you. This country has a wealth of natural splendor that is just waiting to be discovered. The diversity of Bolivia’s landscape is overwhelming: from the expansive salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni and the intricate network of floating islands on Lake Titicaca to the bustling capital La Paz and the dusty Andean desert region. Most tourists are blown away by the expressive culture displayed by Bolivians, with parades and deity-focused celebrations a common occurrence.

Nicaragua

Offering luscious forests, mountainous sites and colonial architecture, it goes without saying that Nicaragua is not to be missed. Nestled between Honduras and Costa Rica, this treasure trove of undeveloped land is perfect for travelers who crave to get off the beaten track. Nicaragua is also an ideal destination for activity junkies, which is why it features on our list of surprising travel destinations for 2018. Experience the ultimate rush of surfing down an active volcano, diving in underwater caves or fishing in the rivers of a dense jungle. The colorful colonial buildings of the towns and the pride of heritage displayed by the locals makes it a picturesque getaway for anybody in search of adventure.

Slovenia

With almost half of its surface area being covered by forest, Slovenia is a dream for those wanting to reconnect with nature. This small country in central Europe is known best for its ski resorts, tranquil lakes and quaint coastal towns. A keenness for outdoor pursuits is a must when venturing to this particular travel destination, with hiking and cycling the snow-capped mountains being a favored pastime. Slovenia is also marked for its unique cuisine: an amalgamation of Italian, Austrian and Hungarian. There is a distinct focus on fresh and locally sourced ingredients. Aside from its natural beauty, most visitors remark on the supreme openness and hospitality of the locals. 

Japan

Japan encapsulates a harmonious balance between modern living and ancient tradition. Tokyo’s neon-lit cityscape is almost reminiscent of a science fiction film: a stark contrast to the rural prefectures elsewhere. Japan is a mecca for foodies; the flavor, simplicity and quality of the cuisine is synonymous the world over. Much to the surprise of newcomers, the gastronomy is deeply varied and largely dependent on the district. The mountainous regions offer up hearty hotpots while the coasts are famous for delicate sushi. Whether you choose to relax in some of its natural hot springs, visit a site of ancient shrines or take in the iconic views, there is something for everyone in Japan.

Chile

This sliver of a country stretches along the western edge of South America, with around 6,000 kilometers of coastline. What Chile really is, is a land of extremes. In no other place could you stargaze the galaxies from the driest desert in the world—the Atacama Desert—climb the 2,000 meter Patagonian steppe of Parque Nacional Torres del Paine and visit the haunting moai monoliths of Easter Island in one trip. Even its cities have a distinct personality that resonates with tourists. Valparaiso is a key example of this: the city’s inextinguishable energy is brought to life through astonishing street art that is considered among the best in Latin America. 

Bhutan

Perhaps one of the most surprising travel destinations for 2018 is Bhutan—a tiny Buddhist kingdom on the eastern edge of the Himalayas. Bhutan is characterised by its preserved verdant landscapes, patchwork rice fields, magical fortresses (or dzongs) and impressive mountaintop monasteries. The Bhutanese make a point of restricting the number of yearly visitors—employing a sustainable approach to tourism, so as not to dent the environmental purity of their nation. Not only is Bhutan carbon neutral, but also at least 60 percent of its forests must remain for future generations by law. It comes as no surprise that such a place also measures their output by Gross National Happiness (GNH). Before embarking on a trip to Bhutan, a few rules and regulations should be kept in mind—mainly the daily tariff for foreign visitors. While this compulsory fee covers accommodation, food and guide, it also makes it a slightly pricier venture (one worth forking out for, we think).

Which of these surprising travel destinations for 2018 would you visit and why? We want to hear about your plans for exploring the globe below!

Further reading: Mind the Gap Year