Three Days in Scotland

Three Days in Scotland

The trip started off with me going to my Classical Myth in the Renaissance class. Not exactly glamorous start to my enhancement week vacation, but Elizabeth understood that I really liked the class and didn’t want to miss the lecture. I brought my packed duffle bag with me to class so that we could jump on the bus right after my lecture. We made it to our flight just in time and took a short bus ride from the airport to “The Hostel”. After dropping our bags off, we walked across the street to Ryrie’s pub. Great pub with wonderful staff, I highly recommend you go!Ryrie's Bar Edinburgh

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Our first day in Edinburgh we walked up Coats Cres and Shandwick Place until we made it to Prince’s street and wandered into Saint John’s church graveyard.

Welcome to Edinburgh
Welcome to Edinburgh
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After having our fair share of graveyard fun on Halloween day, we walked through the park that separates Princes Street and the Royal Mile.

Out of the Graveyard
Out of the Graveyard
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Having seen the castle and taken our pictures of the view, we decided to walk down the Royal Mile to see what we could find. We were not disappointed!

Walking the Mile
Walking the Mile
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Day two, we started by going down Prince’s Street and walking up Calton Hill. Stunning view, Elizabeth and I got some great photos!

On our way to Calton Hill
On our way to Calton Hill
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We continued our barrage of picture taking by walking up the hill to the Nelson Monument.

The Nelson Monument
The Nelson Monument
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Moving on we took pictures of Dugald Stewart Monument, the National Monument of Scotland, and the other various monuments across the top of the hill.

Memorial
Memorial
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For the rest of our time in Edinburgh, we walked up and down the Royal Mile visiting various sites that caught our attention. We spent a day in Glasgow but didn’t take many pictures because we went to a movie before getting on our plane to Dublin.

Ahh Sun
Ahh Sun
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The hostel we stayed at was okay. It was cheap and close to everything we wanted to see. When we visited, the hostel wasn’t offering girls only rooms (or boys only rooms for that matter) so we stayed in a room that just happened to be rented primarily by men. Not that I have an issue to sharing rooms with men, I just didn’t know these strangers. Several of the men weren’t keen on showering and our room smelled strongly of sweat… Lucky for Elizabeth and me, we got a bunk next to the window. The bathroom floor was constantly wet. I was prepared and brought flip flops, but Elizabeth had to borrow mine when I was done. The hostel could be spruced up a lot more, but it wasn’t horrible for how cheap and close it was to everything.

Edinburgh Castle was amazing and I would suggest doing the tour. Elizabeth and I didn’t go on the tour while we were there, but my friend Ben did and loved it. I’m planning to go on the tour when I visit Scotland again, so I’ll write more about it when that happens. I loved Contini ice cream shop just in front of Edinburgh Castle. The staff was very nice! Especially since they had to be dressed up for Christmas on Halloween day. Martone is a great Italian restaurant on the A900 just past Prince’s Street. Also in front of Edinburgh Castle was the Tartan Weaving Mill Experience, it was free to visit and overall a great time. 

In celebration of Halloween we took a Halloween tour through Mercat tours! It was a free tour and totally worth it! I would’ve paid for a tour it was that great. I did leave a tip for our guide, and I will take more of their other tours when I visit again.

I had an amazing time in Scotland and I am planning to visit again! Thank you for looking through all the photos. I hope you enjoyed them and I hope you too can visit Scotland!

 

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Three Days in Scotland

Two Days in Ireland

Two Days in Ireland

The last day of our trip to Scotland was in Glasgow because our flight to Dublin flew out of there. Glasgow was nice but we were too tired to explore much. When we got to Dublin we had some trouble finding our hostel. Although it took a couple loop arounds we finally found the hostel and got some shut eye. Here are some of the pictures we took while wandering Dublin on our first full day.

Walking Around Ireland
Walking Around Ireland
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One of the first places we visited was Trinity College. We did so mainly because one of my best friends from home, Randee, did her study abroad through the college. It was beautiful! We also happened to walk in right as their graduation ceremony was starting. The Book of Kells was worth the cost to visit and the tour leads into the Old Library of Trinity College. The Old Library was a treat for me since I love the smell of aged books and libraries in general.

Approaching Trinity College
Approaching Trinity College
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Next on our list was Dublin Castle. The night before, the person who checked us into the hotel told us it wouldn’t be worth the effort to see the castle since “it’s just ruins”. Using the word “ruins” made Elizabeth and me think that the castle was literally broken up into pieces on some sort of grassy hill. Nope! The remaining portion of the castle was just incorporated into the Irish government building it is now connected to. Well worth the walk to see it.

Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle
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It was a longer walk to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral but I would walk the distance again to see the cathedral again. The staff were so nice, practically saint-like themselves! Saint Patrick’s was also the ONLY cathedral we visited that would allow us to take our own pictures for free! We paid a small fee to get in, arrived just in time for a free tour, and spent a couple hours taking pictures on our own. I absolutely love this place and I will visit it every time I go back to Dublin. The park around the cathedral is open for citizen to stroll around it and let their dogs play. Elizabeth and I were really missing our dogs, and being able to play with random puppies was a joyous relief.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral Gates
Saint Patrick's Cathedral Gates
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Our second day in Dublin we took a 25 minute train to the village of Malahide to visit its castle. Again a suggestion from my friend Randee, which I happily suggest to you as well! The gardens weren’t in bloom and they were still beautiful. Peacocks roam the property, and there is a graveyard to photograph as well. You can call us morbid or strange, but Elizabeth and I just like to take pictures of graveyards and headstones. (If you didn’t already catch on to that from my Cornwall post.) The castle tour was sublime and we actually learned a lot! For example, since makeup used to be made of wax, clay, and similar materials; a servant would sit in the corner and watch the womens’ faces. If someone’s makeup started to melt, she’d quietly pick up the fan next to the fireplace and place it in front of the woman as she said, “My lady you’re losing face. May I save your face?” We loved the history so much that we started saying it whenever the other had a makeup malfunction. Haha!

Approaching Malahide Castle
Approaching Malahide Castle
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After having some trouble on the train ride back to Dublin, I was very worried that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the Guinness Storehouse. So worried that instead of walking to the storehouse, I paid for a taxi to take us there. We made it with ten minutes to spare. Lucky for me that’s just when they stop selling tour tickets, so I was still able to spend about two hours wandering the 7 storehouse floors. I had been saving my first taste of Guinness just for this moment and I almost shed a tear when I was able to fulfill the dream. I had my first Guinness in the storehouse’s Gravity Bar, and I loved it. It tasted slightly chocolatey. Ireland’s Guinness tastes different from the rest of the Guinness the export. It is a unique flavour and experience and I strongly encourage you to try it! I don’t like beer at all and I loved Guinness. Yes I’m aware that Guinness isn’t a beer but that’s the point. You never know if you’d actually like it until you try it.

Guinness Storehouse
Guinness Storehouse
Photo courtesy of Irish Conference Venues at http://www.irishconferencevenues.com/conference-venues/dublin-city/guinness-storehouse-dublin-city-conference-event.html.
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Despite some strange things that happened while visiting Dublin, it is one of my favourite places that I’ve visited. I would certainly go again. Elizabeth and I stayed at Abbey Court Hostel which was considerably nicer than the hostel in Edinburgh. Cheap, close to all the main sights and the train station, yet clean. The building was much larger than it looks and I’m glad the employee who checked us in walked us to where our room was. We were able to stay in a girls only room which was spacious, clean, and had large lockers under the beds. The staff was friendly, offered free tours and pub crawls, and the restrooms were easy to find and clean.

Please visit Dublin! It is such a beautiful and amazing place. In just two days we had an adventure worth writing about. Traveling can be affordable, which is why I write about the places I stayed. I was on a very tight budget and I was still able to travel to several countries while studying abroad. Traveling is worth the effort and cost. You’ll gain stories and experiences that teach you about yourself and the world around you.

 

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Two Days in Ireland

How to Find the Best Study Environments

Environment is a major factor for most people when it comes to studying. Most people believe that a “study environment” means having a quiet room, alone, listening to Mozart. This can be great for some, but it is not the universal environment for studying. As a whole, studying comes down to finding what works for you. Experimenting with the following elements of a study environment may help you find what works best for you.

1.Having a study partner
Being alone isn’t always the best way to learn. A good study partner can help keep you on track, and fact check you. The right study partner isn’t just a friend that wants to hang out. You will need to work together in order for this study setting studypartnerto work. This type of studying requires you to be honest, polite, and respectful. Establish that it is okay to tell each other when the discussion has strayed too far from the topic(s) at hand. When memorizing material, give your partner a copy and ask them to only speak when you need a correction in your lines. Having a study partner can also help enlighten you to ideas, connections, or solutions that you may not have otherwise come up with.

2.Music and Sounds
This is can be a finicky aspect of the study environment. Personally, my music varies in correlation with my mood. Music can both reflect and affect your mood, concentration, and motivation. When I’m writing I need to concentrate on my words, so I listen to music that has no words, lyrics, or understandable vocals. This is a broad category for me. At times I listen to Classical, others I listen to lyric-less EDM or operatic music in other languages. Instrumental studying.jpeg-824x549versions of songs can be awesome but it usually leads to me singing the lyrics of the original
version of the song, so I avoid them. I know several people that listen to Rock and/or Metal music in order to “pump”  themselves up. Music does not have to be exclusive to what you would hear on the radio either. When music gets to be too much for me to focus, I switch to a meditative soundtrack of either the sounds of rain or the forest. These sounds can make you feel more relaxed and comfortable, making it easier to focus on one thing at a time. Using nature sounds can create a barrier like “white noise”, blocking out the other sounds around you.

3.Experiment with location
Locking yourself in your room, and sitting at your desk isn’t always the best location for studying. There are countless things within your room that can distract you from the tasks at hand. Sometimes you can curb this by going into a different room in your house, such as the kitchen, office, or living room. Yet switching rooms within your house doesn’t eliminate the distractions, since you still have access to them. Going to the library can be great because it is out of your home comfort zone, and has fewer distractions (usually).IMG_5214 If the library isn’t working for
you try to get out in nature. Studying outside can be tricky since the weather can change. There’s no way to guarantee yourself a distraction-free environment. Even if you put all unnecessary electronics away and go to a place where you think no one will distract you,  you’ll make new distractions for yourself if you can’t focus. Finding the right location takes trial and error. It may be difficult but when you finally find the perfect place for you, it’s a huge relief and help. When I was studying abroad I was really struggling with finding a good place to study because my room offered too many distractions. Then I discovered that my reception building’s lounge was almost always empty. It offered a great view of the forest surrounding the area, was warm, and was, for the most part, quiet. 

4.Foodfood
Making sure you eat before studying is important.
If you eat while studying, the food can either stain your notes (potentially ruining them), distract you from the work, or lead you to only remembering the food you were eating versus what you were studying. Eat a solid meal before you begin studying, it will prevent you from distracting yourself with snacking and will also fuel you through your study. For longer study sessions, snack breaks are helpful and something to look forward to.

Finding the right study groove comes down to experimentation. It can take awhile to find the right combination of elements that create your optimal study setting, but it is well worth it in the end. Having a study partner can help you work through your material verbally, which is especially helpful for preparing for presentations. Changing study locations can help prevent you from becoming too comfortable and losing focus. Food keeps you fueled but is best eaten before, not during, your studies. Music can drown out the background sounds and motivate you to keep working hard. Sometimes even just changing my clothes helps me study. Switching from my daytime outfit into a comfy set of pajamas helps me shed the distractions of the day and relax into my studies. Don’t get upset with yourself when you struggle, merely look at it as a lesson and adjust from there.
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How to Find the Best Studying Methods

Studying is not limited to re-reading the notes you’ve written on a subject. Re-reading your notes often is more likely to help you remember the subject, but it isn’t the most effective for everyone. The following are some other study methods that may help you retain more of your lessons.

1.Active Writing
Repetition can be helpful in learning new material, but sometimes you need more than just re-reading to make things stick. Writing out what you’re studying does not just have to be repeated lines in a notebook. If writing out your notes over and over doesn’t help you, try using a whiteboard. WhiteboardI find the white board particularly helpful when studying a new language. Repeatedly writing and rewriting vocabulary words in different ways, allowed me to make more connections between words and engage myself with the material. I enjoy drawing and, although a whiteboard isn’t my preferred surface, in certain cases it was easier for me to learn a word through drawing it. This works best for basic vocabulary, such as learning names of objects, but can also be great when learning colours if you have the correlating markers. Using a dry erase board can also be helpful in organizing your thoughts, or working through math problems.

2.Active Readingactive reading    
Contrary to just re-reading your notes, active reading involves reading your notes aloud. Saying the notes to myself helps me remember the content better. This method adds an extra layer of processing. You cannot just visually skim over the same words again and again without digesting them, interacting with them vocally helps you process what you’re talking about. This can help you avoid becoming blind to what is written in front of you. Of course this method works best for memorizing scripts, poems, or other lines of text that you want to remember verbatim. I also find this very helpful when studying history notes. I organize my notes chronologically and then narrate the events as if I were making a documentary.  

3.Practice through teaching
While working with a study partner, try teaching the concept/subject to your partner. This tests your knowledge by forcing you to reiterate what you’ve learned while using visuals. If you don’t understand the material well enough, your partner won’t either; indicating that you need to study more.DPPD_Zoe_McGraw You cannot just parrot what your professor has said to you, this method requires you to internalize the material and put it into your own words. It helps to choose a partner that is well versed in the subject so that they can fact check your lesson. If your partner is not knowledgeable in the material already, give your partner a lesson plan or detailed notes that cover what you’re learning/teaching. These notes allow your partner to check your correctness as you work through the subject. Using this to learn math is a great way to test your understanding, and this method is also helpful in preparing for presentations.

4.Flashcardsvisual-flash
This is an old trick, but it can work really well if done effectively. Instead of just making the usual vocabulary flash cards (where one side has the word and the other has the meaning), draw or paste a picture on one side and have the word on the back. Visual flashcards are great for learning vocabulary in another language. spanish-flashWithout having your native language on the card, you are eventually able to get past the instinct to translate back and forth. This can be limited since many vocabulary words are abstract concepts that are difficult to depict, but it is a great way to nail down the vocabulary that you can make these flashcards with. You can also use flashcards to learn history topics, among many others. Put the date on one side and the event on the back.
There are many ways to adapt older studying methods. Get creative with flashcards by adding pictures and/or colour. Push your comprehension by teaching a study partner about the new mathematical formulas you’ve been working with. Use a whiteboard to help visualize your notes in a new way. Reciting your notes out loud may feel strange at first, but if talking to yourself helps you remember tasks you need to do, the same may be true with remembering your notes. Let your creativity flow and try adapting older methods to see if the new hybrid works better for you.

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A Day in Oxford

Day Trip to Oxford

Elizabeth and I both wanted to see Oxford, so we went with the Uni’s Travel Society. Overall great trip! We got to see the door that inspired Narnia and the garden where Lewis Carroll met Alice Liddell. Some Harry Potter sites were visited as well.

Oxford
Oxford
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Day Trip to Oxford

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Roma Came to Visit

Roma Visits Me in England

While running errands in town I got a phone call from a French number. Confused I didn’t answer. The same number called again but when I tried to answer I couldn’t hear anything. A few more minutes passed and I realized it was probably my French flatmate, Pauline. I began to worry that she needed help and I couldn’t get to her quickly enough. Just then I got a text message from the same number. It said, “You should come home asap. ~Roma”

That’s confusing! Maybe she has a French phone number for when she travels. Why wouldn’t she just pay for the extra coverage on her normal phone number though. It doesn’t matter! I’ve gotta get home fast! 

Lucky for me, the checkout line was fast. Bags of groceries in hand, I began to fast walk, almost run, to the bus stop. My legs were sore from the recent trip to Cornwall, but I wasn’t stopping. The bus stop reader board said it would take the bus 15 minutes to get to the stop. No way! I can run down to a different stop and get on the bus when it catches up to me. I continued to fast walk down the bus’ route in order to keep getting closer to my house, while also still having the option to get on the bus when it intercepted me.

Making good pace, the bus wasn’t going to intercept me though. So I committed and began running back to my flat. Legs cramping and groceries jangling, I wouldn’t allow myself to stop. The thought of my aunt coming all the way to visit me flooded me with happiness. Happy tears welled up, but were immediately dried out by the wind hitting me as I ran. From my flat to town takes about 30-35 minutes of walking, yet I ran the little over 2 miles in about 10 minutes. Exhausted, excited, and shaking, I finally arrived at my flat. I fumbled with the keys, even dropping them once, before I could get a grip on the right one to open the door.

There she was, quietly reading a book at my kitchen table. Dropping all the groceries, I ran into the kitchen and hugged her. One of my other flatmates was extremely confused, he just stared at us as he continued to cook.  I helped put her bags in my room and put the groceries away in a flash.  Roma took me out to dinner and we caught up on stories. Turns out she almost came to visit me while I was still in Cornwall but rescheduled only hoping I’d be back by the time she had arrived. Everything worked out great since I had gotten home from the trip that morning!

The next day Roma asked me to show her around London. We wandered by the most common sights and then Roma offered to take me to something else of my choice. We tried to work out going to Stonehenge, but we couldn’t get transportation from my town directly to the sight. So we went with the second option, the Tower of London. It was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful that I got to share it with my aunt Roma. Thank you so much for visiting me  and taking me to the Tower of London, Roma! Having a family member come to visit was just what I needed at the time. I’m glad I ran the 2+ miles instead of waiting for the bus.  

Tower of London
Tower of London
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Roma Visits Me in England

Primark

    Repeat after me. Primark is life! Or at least it is for college/university students who are on a budget. Some of you may or may not be familiar with this store. It’s similar to the American store called J.C. Penny’s. Primark is a Dublin based retailer that has stores in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The women’s clothing department is one of my personal favourites because it has so much variety, and is cheap but not so cheap that the clothes are scratchy or wear down easily. Gloves and other seasonal products such as festive holiday sweaters are also some of my most used items. Purses, hair products (such as Bobby pins and hair ties), and scarves for both men and women are abundant! The men’s clothing is nice and up to date. Women’s shoes have a larger section than the men’s shoes (in most of the smaller stores) so that’s a slight downside for the men.  Another small downside for men is that the women’s clothing section is usually larger. I recommend Primark to uni and study abroad students because it was a big help to me, in several ways, when I was in that position.

1.Great Prices
First off, the clothing was cheap enough that I could afford to buy multiple items, instead of having to get the bare minimum. I couldn’t bring many clothes with me, and I loved that I could buy more clothes that I liked without breaking the bank. The clothes I bought from Primark are still staples in my day to day wardrobe. I wish that there were Primark stores in America too! Well there is one in Boston, but I would like one closer to Washington state.

2. New Items Regularly
I did look at other stores that also offered competitive prices. H&M and House of Fraser (to name a couple stores) did not add new products as often as Primark did. The styles of clothing that Primark sold matched my style better. It was rare that I found an item that I liked at H&M, and even more rare if Primark didn’t sell a similar version of the same item.  Over a span of four months H&M only got new items once, and that was during the start of the holiday season. Primark on the other hand, added new items every month.

3. Sells More Than Just Clothesmaeda_09primark_biz20
Primark has a home department that sells bedding, towels, hand cloths, bedroom and bathroom decor. I really appreciate the home department. It saved me so much money when I had to buy a bath mat for my shower (along with other decorations and necessities). The bath mat is memory foam, and very absorbent. The memory foam pillows are also wonderful. I own several of the super soft, fluffy blankets from Primark. There are also reusable bags that are available in
 loads of designs. I personally have four different bags that have lasted me a long time, through many heavy trips from the grocery store.

R35397112052351-large4. Harry Potter MerchandiseIMG_4823

I am a mega Harry Potter fan. Half of my closet is Harry Potter related. Although not everyone is as big of a fan, the Harry Potter merchandise is wonderful. Most of the merchandise consists of tee shirts and pajamas, but Primark also had sweatshirts, and sweatpants among a few other items. Harry Potter merchandise is not difficult to find in England, as to be expected, but this is still a huge plus for Primark in my book.

$_355. Disney Productss-l1000

Primark was one of the few places in England where I could find Disney merchandise. I’m not a huge Disney fan, but I love Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. My favourite tee shirts from Primark are Disney ones with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan on them. Disney pajamas and purses are also options. Disney products are also available in the kids’ section.  Even if you’re not a fan, they can make great souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back home that are fans of Disney.

Primark is great for students on a budget. The clothes are affordable and last a long time. Decorations for dorm rooms or flats are varied and plentiful. Bathroom necessities are available in about a dozen colours. You can’t necessarily buy soap or kitchen wear from Primark (at least not that I’ve seen), but you can get a lot of the basics from this one store. I shopped at Primark a lot during my study abroad and I was very satisfied with what I got. The decision comes down to you though. Visit the store a couple times to help you decide. If the store doesn’t carry clothing that resemble your style, at least give the home section a chance. Even just buying socks and other small necessities through Primark can save you some cash.

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Photoshoot in London

Photoshoot in London

While showing my friend Elizabeth around Reading, we decided to schedule a photoshoot in London. We really enjoyed it. After we walked around London together as well.

Tile Paths
Tile Paths
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Photoshoot in London

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A Day in Cornwall

Day Trip to Cornwall
Day Trip to Cornwall

My friend and travel partner, Elizabeth, suggested we go to Cornwall. It was amazing! In total we went to the towns of Penzance, Land’s End, and Saint Ives. Well worth the trip!

Penzance
Penzance
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Day trip to Cornwall

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5 Worthwhile Travel Apps

Looking through travel apps and reviews can be overwhelming because there are so many apps to sift through. Before going on my study abroad, I did my research and read through many blog articles. I downloaded 10 apps that I thought would be the most useful. Turns out I only used 5 of those apps and those few were a huge help to me.

  1.  MTrail-Wallet-iconost students going abroad worry about keeping track of their finances. I was no exception, and the Trail Wallet app was a tremendous help to me. I loved the app so much that I still use it. Trail Wallet isn’t just a normal budgeting app, it is specifically designed to help you keep track of trips. My only warning is that although the app is free to download, after 25+ entries you have to pay a couple dollars to upgrade to unlimited entries. It is well worth the money though. You can create separate trip folders and customize the details of each trip. I made a “Study Abroad in England” trip folder, and separate folders for each of my other side journeys. In order to understand how great this organizing tool is, let me show you an example. For our hypothetical trip, we’ll be planning for a trip to Venice, Italy from London, England between Wednesday the 9th to Saturday the 12th of March 2016.  This gallery of pictures will show you how to create a new folder, step by step.
    Adding a New Trip
    Adding a New Trip
    Click "Add New Trip" and give it a title.
    « 1 of 10 »
  2. whatsapp There are many free messaging apps on the market, but Whatsapp rules them all.  I did not meet a single person on my study abroad who didn’t have Whatsapp or didn’t use it regularly. It is widely popular in Europe. It does require wifi connection to work but wifi is not difficult to find. Starbucks and other coffee shops almost always have free wifi. McDonald’s and Burger King also offer free wifi usually. Free wifi use in these places usually requires “signing in” to the specific service via adding name, phone number, and sometimes the address you are staying at. I was initially worried that I would get a bunch of messages from these wifi companies, but I never did. Many of the wifi companies, for example O2, are international and don’t require you to re-sign up when you enter a different country where their service is available.  Whatsapp allows you to send text, voice messages, pictures, and videos. It also give you the ability to send your location, make calls, and use emojis. While Whatsapp is great, I still strongly suggest you purchase a cheap phone, with a top up plan, when you arrive in your host country. The cheap phone is great for emergencies, and for keeping in touch with local friends who don’t have smart phones. Plus many services require a local phone number, such as having your groceries delivered to your door.
  3. Triposo Only one article I read, pre-study abroad, talked about Triposo. Getting the app was one of the best decisions I made. It ‘s a free app that allows you to download information about the countries and/or cities you will be travelling to. Not only does it offer articles on the culture, politics, history, and other aspects of the country/city you’re visiting, it has downloadable maps of the area that you can use offline.  A friend of a friend came to visit us in London and, after all our tourism, he forgot how to get back to his hostel. Lucky for all of us, he wrote the hostel address on his wrist and I was easily able to find the hostel via Triposo’s London map that I had downloaded. Addresses in England can be difficult since many buildings aren’t individually numbered. Despite not having a building number, the Triposo map was able to find the hostel and navigate us there without any issues. I used it for all of my trips and I highly recommend it, especially since it is free and offers offline maps!
    Finding City Info
    Finding City Info
    Type in either the country or city you want information on, and then download the content. Once downloaded it'll take you to the main menu for that place.
    « 1 of 3 »
  4. mapmywalk MapMyWalk was suggested to me by a friend and I’m really happy with it. It’s free and you can sign in through facebook (it doesn’t post to your page). It’s best for when you’re travelling in unfamiliar areas, and places where street signs are either hard to find or hard to understand. The app allows you to track your footsteps while you are travelling. When you need to find your way back, it’ll give you directions of each turn you made. I have great direction memory and can 9.5 out of 10 times re-trace my steps perfectly. Yet there’s still that .5 out of 10 times that I could use the extra help. I used it in Prague when Stewart and I got turned around in the maze of buildings around Prague Castle. We got back down the massive staircase just fine, it was when we found ourselves surrounded by store fronts, restaurants, pubs, and apartment buildings that it felt like we were going in circles. It was easy to use and well worth having it for the few times I needed it! MapMyWalk-GPS-Walking
  5. Tube-Map-icon-04Tube Map is more of a London specific app, but none the less it is worth discussing. This app is also free and can operate without wifi. The map is a digital version of the London tube map which you can easily navigate. You can type in the station you want to go to, and it will automatically give you directions from the nearest tube station. One downside is that it isn’t a street map, meaning it isn’t capable of giving you turn by turn directions to your nearest underground station. Underground.svgAlthough, the underground is not all that hard to find since it is clearly labeled with its iconic sign. When looking for your nearest underground entrance, don’t be afraid to ask someone. When I asked for directions I would walk into a store and ask an employee. Stores are everywhere in London, and asking a shop employee diminishes the possibility of accidentally asking another lost tourist, or worse someone who could potentially be a threat to your safety.

When it comes down to choosing apps, it really is all up to you. I had a hard time deciding because I wasn’t sure what exactly I needed. Some of the apps I had initially, either were redundant or weren’t updated often enough. Since I used the trains so much, I tried using a railway app but was disappointed. The railway app didn’t show all the possible trains I could use, and didn’t always have up to date train times. Struggling with these apps taught me that although there is an app for just about everything, doesn’t mean that the app is actually helpful. Hostels are much easier to book online, flights are better tracked on the company’s website, and sometimes the only way to find out if an app works for you is by trial and error. If the app costs money right out the gate, I would research it heavily before testing it out. Although, in my case, all the apps that I loved and used all the time where the ones that were free. I did pay for the unlimited entries for my Trail Wallet app. With Trail Wallet, I was able to test it out for free before my purchase, which was a huge advantage. These were the apps that worked the best for me, but it’s all about testing the waters when it comes to your individual needs. Don’t be afraid to download a few extra apps for your experiments, you can always delete them if they aren’t useful to you.
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