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One of the advantages of being part of an exchange program is the possibility of traveling. In the first place, it is necessary to go to the host country, for which there are a series of requirements, procedures, and recommendations (which, in Spain’s case are these), but once you are there, it is most likely that you want to get the most out of your experience, which includes traveling within that country and (why not?) beyond its borders. In this article, we will provide you with the four essential travel tips for exchange students.
1. Get Organized
The priority of every exchange student is to learn. Learn the knowledge and skills associated with the study program that will be studied in the host country, the language spoken in that country and its culture. An excellent way to reinforce the learning of these last two aspects is by traveling, which in general requires organization but with more reason when participating in an exchange program, since there are a series of special benefits for exchange students.
For that reason, the first thing you should do is to investigate which are those benefits in your host country. One of the best known is the International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which is accepted in 130 countries and allows you to get better prices in certain restaurants, hotels, air tickets, museums and other places. We recommend that you obtain your ISIC card in your country of origin so that you can seize its advantages from the beginning of your exchange program.
2. Save on transportation
Naturally, the less you spend on certain aspects you will have a larger budget to travel. Therefore, in addition to obtaining the ISIC card and any other similar credentials accepted in your host country, we suggest that you travel mostly by bus and train. About this last means of transport, if your host country is located in Europe and you are under 27 years of age, we recommend that you buy Eurail passes, under which you will have discounts of 20% on all your train trips.
As regards air tickets, we recommend that you evaluate them in each particular case, because although they are usually more expensive, it is worth paying the price of certain domestic flights. Furthermore, unless the situation warrants it, avoid using cabs, because, naturally, by doing so your budget will be exhausted much more quickly.
3. Become friends with local people
When traveling, there are usually two scenarios: the one that tourists know and another one special for local people. The first provides a safe and comfortable environment where tourists can spend their money; in the second you will meet places and special people, and you will live experiences that are usually only available to those who live in the area. The only way to get in the second scenario is being introduced to it by people from the area. Therefore, among other reasons, it is important to make friends with these people.
Although this may allow you to obtain better prices with respect to certain products and services, it goes much further: it will allow you to know the city from the inside and, what is more important, connect you in a better way with others. However, for your safety and well-being, do your best to make friends with constructive people, and keep the toxic ones away. For all the above, it is important that you have a good relationship with your host family since it could lead you to live the second scenario or at least they will be there in case you have any concerns about it.
4. Have a blast!
Organizing, saving money and making friends with people in the area makes sense only so that, as mentioned at the beginning, you get the most out of your experience of being an exchange student. For the same reason, you must do all these things at your discretion: if at some point you want to spend a little more or, in general, do anything that gives you happiness, do it! Isn’t that the ultimate goal?