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Don't Make These 7 Common Mistakes While Abroad

Things don’t always go as planned when you travel. You quickly learn that mistakes are bound to happen! But with a little planning and preparation, and these tips from returning Waterloo exchange students, you can avoid some common mistakes.

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1. Don't Overpack.

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See that giant suitcase you packed? You really don't need all that. You will learn to fit a week's worth of things in one backpack and it's a great skill to have while travelling.

2. Don't forget to take photos.

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Make sure to take more photos or videos when you are abroad. Capture some of the more mundane things at your host university, such as the library, or the way the canteens are.

3. Don't prevent yourself from immersing in the culture.

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Have the confidence to practice the new language with locals and embarrass yourself in public when you can't understand what the cashier is saying. You’ll never regret trying!

4. Don't forget to get your visa and travel documents ready ahead of time.

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Be sure to get all the correct travel documents ready ahead of time and make sure to make copies. A tip from Rachel Leslie, a recent traveler to the Netherlands, is to upload copies of your documents to your Google Drive where you can access them from any computer. This will relieve some unnecessary stress.

5. Don't forget to find a balance.

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Find the balance between school, sleep and exploring. There is so much to see, so much to learn and experience, but you can’t do it all - especially if you’re not getting enough rest.

6. Don't forget to research cultural and climate differences ahead of time.

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Although you will be immersing yourself into the new culture, it’s better to have a general idea of some of the cultural norms that exist before arriving. For example, know what the temperature will be like while you are there so you can pack accordingly!

7. Don't miss an opportunity.

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Say ‘yes’ to trying new foods, learning a new language, going on excursions, and more! Take every opportunity you can. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Special thanks to our returning 2015-2016 exchange students for admitting to some of their mistakes and providing these helpful tips. Do you have any tips to add? Share them in the comments below.

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