Discover more from Cyborgs Writing
3 Things to Keep in Mind When Organizing the First Few Days of a Study Abroad to Europe
Give students the space they need
This week I finally brought students to Krakow, Poland for the first time. I thought I had the perfect first days planned for this study abroad … but not quite.
My goal for these first few days is to get students checked-in, settled, and acquainted with the area … while also getting them over jet lag as quickly as possible. Eat on schedule. No naps. No sleeping in. 😬
Though I think this went well, here are a few things I would consider changing.
Plan nothing for arrival day (or night).
Originally, I had a group dinner planned for the night of our arrival, but realized that this was probably too much. So I organized a grocery run instead. No one came. Everyone ended up doing their own thing.
But that’s okay. Travel is overwhelming, and people deal with that differently. Some people want to get groceries for breakfast (and explore). That’s me. Some people want to get food right away. Others just want to crash in the apartment.
I need to be there to help people as they arrive, while keeping expectations low for any organized activity.
Watch the feet.
My plan was to knock out the two most important sites our first day full day. It is a good way to acquaint students with the area and also help them adjust to the time shift. I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to get people out of the apartment and into the city.
I would be careful not to schedule too much walking next time. We toured Wawel Castle in the morning and the old town in the afternoon. Students did a lot of walking in between on their own.
By dinner time there were a lot of sore feet. Tomorrow we won’t do nearly as much walking … and that is a good thing. A tip for the next day, for sure.
Give students space.
For the last tour of the morning, we explored the Wawel Cathedral. I told students they are free to go after the tour of the cathedral. Poof! They disappeared. No problem for me. I went back to my apartment to Facetime with my twin 3-year-olds.
It was great to see students interacting with each other and learning about the area, but I would be careful about making too many tours for the first day. I don’t want to lose students with too many tour guides. I want to keep them engaged with the city.
Though students appreciate the help when they need it, they do not need to babysat. Part of study abroad should be about figuring things out on their own and exploring in their own way.
All in all, it was a great day. Students had a good time, and we got a lot done. Students are now acquainted with Krakow, settled in their apartments, and ready to do some work for the class. For our next day, we will be visiting a company for some technical writing workshops … which includes very little walking.
I made sure this visit wasn’t more than 5 hours, so they have some space for their own explorations.