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What to expect at your school’s travel fair

You get to campus at your new study abroad program whether it is in London, Rome or Madrid. There is orientation, apartment check-in, lessons on public transportation and plenty of people to meet. During that week, your school may plan a travel fair along with travel speakers to introduce you into the new culture of study abroad and travel. These speakers can be extremely helpful and can usually answer any questions you may have. Here’s what (and who) you can expect in that crowded student lounge.

 The Volunteer Group

This group encourages students to volunteer their time in the city with certain organizations. They promote their resume building opportunities to students who will be around for a semester or a full year. They like to hook students in by giving them a valuable tool to get locked into the real culture of the community. It’s definitely a popular choice with students who may not have a part time job or internship in their study abroad city. And who knows, that volunteer job twice a week could turn into something more.

 The Travel Company

This group is usually the most popular and most frequent at travel fairs held at study abroad programs. They have colorful posters and pamphlets to brag why their destinations are the best. Some companies only do local trips to interesting sights/cities within their country but others offer fun adventures throughout all of Europe. Depending on if the student wants a cookie-cutter experience with 40 others on a charter bus or an exciting active trip meeting directly with locals, there will be something for everyone. Always be sure to ask questions of what companies include and do not include. You might be surprised when you find out if those ‘highlights’ are included in what initially appears to be a lower price.

 The Gym Membership Guys

Everyone has the vision of trying to stay in shape while abroad. For those who do, it’s most likely they committed themselves to a gym nearby because they paid a pretty penny to commit to that. The gym people will be all about a flexible pass for the gym, pool or spa. The places that have full student union with tons of options for a reasonable price are gonna be your best bet. My advice, budget what money you have, what money you want to spend on a gym membership for a few months and then budget your time (days/hours a week) accordingly. You’re going to be busy with classes, travel and other activities. So take this semester to get your exercise outside walking and running.

 The Student Services People

These guys arrange the travel fair. They do this semester after semester to maximize everyone’s time and money. This group is your director of student services or upperclassmen who will help you out in any situation whether it be a fun boat cruise or providing helpful advice for when you get sick in a foreign country (or after the boat cruise). They sign you up late when you miss the email, they have your back when your teachers might be on your back and they are sure to make your amazing experience goes as smoothly as possible. Be nice to them! Also, sign up for their activities too because they have the connections within the city that other companies or groups may not. When you go home to brag to your friends about your semester abroad, you’re most likely bragging that your program was top notch.

The Local Bankers

The people who make the world go ‘round. Cash is king in every language. The different banks will show up with a (probably) boring booth hoping that you will open a new account with the bank in your city. Sometimes it’s a good decision, sometimes it’s not. But either way, it’s super important because everyone will have a budget. Be sure to know all about your finances before you go abroad and make a decision accordingly. Even if you don’t want to open a new account at least chat them up to hear their pitch, ask questions and even see if they have any good restaurant recommendations close by.

 Well now that you’ve made your rounds of all the booths, you’re now three pens, one pencil, one sticker, six business cards, four coupons and about 10 promotion flyers richer. Head back to your flat and rummage through the reading material to decide how you will spend your time and money. And who knows, maybe you’ll be that lucky winner of the four different raffles you entered?

 

Comments:

Cheyenne Hodur, Drake University

Happy Backpackers

Bogi is a great guide. She was everything you could want in a guide plus more. She was fun, cool, and the best part- knowledgeable. She really made the trip great. We got to the hostel late and she was able to rearrange our schedule so everyone could go caving. After caving we were picked up by Bogi (thank goodness because figuring out Hungarian public transportation is really hard if you don't speak Hungarian). WSA made sure to include super cool things- caving, thermal baths, bus tickets, escape games and the hostel. I would definitely do this trip again. Bogi was fun and flexible, we didn't have to stick to a tight schedule and we were able to do things that we wanted to do like the Liberty Statue. She is great, WSA is lucky to have her.

Cheyenne Hodur, Drake University ~ AIFS Richmond, Spring 2015

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