Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Balancing Travel with Academics

Regardless of whether you're a freshman or a senior, academics are a primary consideration when studying abroad. Considering I'm only a freshman, I can't compare the workload here to anywhere in the states; objectively speaking, however, it's doable. Naturally, classes vary in intensity depending on the level and the teacher, but the schedule here at SUMC allows for adequate time to finish your coursework and still enjoy Spain (not to mention the rest of Europe). 

That said it's important not to forget about school entirely. With discount airlines that offer cheap flights year round, it can be tempting to book a trip for every weekend of the semester. Those that do travel often put their trips off until the last few weeks of classes, leaving 10-page papers, 30 minute presentations, novels, and other projects off until the last minute. The story of procrastination is familiar to many, but foreign travel often complicates the equation. If you do book trips, it's best that they fall before the end of classes so you don't miss out on valuable study time, not to mention ensuring that you're actually in country for all of your finals. 

Traveling on discount airlines also requires a bit of preparation, both physically and mentally. Perhaps the most important thing to take into consideration is the baggage limit: luggage must be under a certain size and weight in order to fly. Unlike regular international flights, however, you can and will be denied the chance to board your flight if you fail to meet these requirements--that, or you'll be forced to wear every jacket, sweater, shoe, and other removable article of clothing you've packed on the flight with you. There are no in-flight meals, the bathrooms cost 25 cents, and the airline may tack on fees as it sees fit depending on whether or not you are within their guidelines for travel. In the end it's a matter of reading the fine print and, when in doubt, traveling light. 

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