The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus is situated in western Massachusetts, just over an hour and a half drive away from Boston and under four hours away from New York. Being in such a good, central location meant it was easy to travel to loads of great locations, some of which were close by and some further afield. Here I’ve compiled a few of my top tips for travelling while studying abroad.
- Make use of all modes of transport
There are so many ways to get to places, some cheaper than others so it’s important to look around and find the best options available. I made use of a Facebook rideshare group solely for UMass students, where people posted if they were driving somewhere and had spare seats in their car. Most of the time you’d just have to pay for petrol, so rides would be much cheaper than buses, and if you were lucky, they’d drop you off right outside your destination!
- Find good travel buddies
Making friends in a brand new environment can sometimes be tough, so bonding over a shared interest in travel can be a great way to meet new people. I found making friends with other exchange students was great for this, as we shared a desire to explore our host country and make the most of the short time we had there.
- Look after your belongings!
Travelling in big cities can occasionally be dangerous and although it sounds obvious, it’s important to keep an eye on your possessions and to stay safe at all times. Unfortunately, I learnt this lesson the hard way whilst on a trip to Montreal in Canada, where I dropped my wallet at the top of Mount Royal without realising. After freezing all my cards (thankfully I had no cash in it) and accepting that it had been lost, I randomly received a Facebook message from a nice lady that worked at the chalet at the top of the mountain saying my wallet had been handed in! Although this story ended happily, I definitely learnt my lesson and made sure I was more cautionary in the future.
- Make use of trips organised by the University
My host university had an international programmes office that often organised events and trips for all the exchange students, such as a Halloween fright night trip to the local theme park. Sign up for reminders about upcoming events and make sure to look around – I was able to go on a day trip to New York with the landscape architecture department even though I study chemical engineering! Not only did I get to go to New York and back for only $25, I also got a guided tour of local gardens and parks and got taught new knowledge on a topic I’d never studied before.
- Listen to locals
When deciding where to travel to, I found talking to my classmates about where they’ve been and local places they would recommend to be super useful. Getting tips off residents is a great way to get a better feel of the area as they can provide ideas of non-touristy things to do and see.