5 Reasons to use Air BnB on Acceleration

In recent years, Air BnB has come on strong with our students looking to set up the best possible housing during their free travel opportunities on our European programs.  Here are five advantages to Air BnB over hostels.

First: Air BnB lets you choose the kind of accommodation your or your travel party prefer.  Do you want to have 3-4 of you stay for several days in decent comfort and have your own kitchen?  Then book a flat that’s all yours and has a kitchen and a nice bathroom.  Are you looking to stay as cheaply as possible and don’t care about a kitchen or much privacy, than select that you want a shared flat or even a shared room.  Here’s what the webpage looks like when you’re making these choices:

Second, Air BnB lets you unpack and control your space in different ways than you can in a hostel.  With Air BnB, your room or your bed or your entire flat are yours, with no times that you need to leave cleaning and no need to worry about a lock for your backpack and other things.  You can select a flat based on a neighborhood you want to stay in and also based on how highly the host and the flat have been reviewed.  You’ll want to find a place that has multiple reviews (more than a dozen is ideal) and one where the reviews show that the host is a good communicator who won’t ever go ‘ghost” on you.  Here’s an example of the right review and comment scenario:

Third, Air BnB can help you gain access to a “real neighborhood feel” experience rather than a touristic one.  You’ll be staying in someone’s guest apartment or in their guest room or even just the extra bed in their room.  Many times, that someone will suggest local places you can grab food or a drink that you’d never find on your own.  And sometimes, the host will even offer to take you on a short walking tour to find your way around on the first day.  In hostels, you’ll have the fun of meeting travelers your age from all around the world. Via Air BnB, you’ll meet locals who love the city you’re visiting because it’s their home.  To increase your odds of finding this extra local energy, read the flat’s reviews carefully and then ask plenty of questions and show plenty of interest in your host when you make your booking and follow up with her or him as your stay approaches.  Here’s the kind of review that suggests a warm and eager local:

Fourth: In Western Europe, Air BnB can just be a cheaper option for a few days than a hostel. Up market hostels in major European cities may cost as much as 35 euros a night.  Meanwhile, you can often book and Air BnB with a friend and have one of you on a pull out or else sleeping on a blow up mattress on the floor and pay less than $10 each per night.  Here’s an example of a deal like this in Madrid for the first week in June:

Finally, Air BnB can be a great way to get some calm and mindful time during a busy travel and learning adventure. Notice the elderly neighbors who are dressed to the nines as they head out for coffee and a market run in the morning. And the young families who are navigating tight sidewalks with strollers and toddlers on scooters. And the people who seek out “your” local park each day to argue politics and then play bocce ball like their lives depend on the outcome. None of these things will make your trip to any given city. And yet the way you can breathe a little easier and more like a local may well stick with you long after you’ve packed up and moved out of “your” little place in Pisa or Porto.

To open your own Air BnB account, go to: www.airbnb.com and sign up.  Note: you will likely be prompted to upload an ID and a photo of yourself.  The service does this so that the folks whose places you’re booking will be able to know that you’ve been vetted by Air BnB and are in fact who you say you are.

Happy travels!

Financial Holds, Immunization and Study Abroad Insurance: what’s the deal?

Everybody gets used to rules. Universities help us keep rules always front on the mind. And so do states. Now enter the world of global programs involving multiple universities in several states plus a learning itinerary that’s taking us to several classroom countries, and you’re entering a world where risk managers are going to have some say over things. In the case of The Catalyst processes that we’ve been emailing you about, the two things that might seem the most confusing are the administrative holds that are put on your registration at UWF for your academic courses in conjunction with Immunization and Study Abroad Insurance.  What’s the deal with these?

Well the state of Florida is home to UWF, where The Catalyst has its academic heart. That means that our program is subject to Florida state laws governing immunization in conjunction with high education.  So first things first: don’t think that you’re being signaled out by The Catalyst or UWF for some special and raw treatment where the holds are concerned.  Every student is facing this administrative issue.  Here’s what to do:

First: be sure that you’ve completed your dynamic form application for The Catalyst at UWF.  Nothing works without this step.  Assuming you have done this and uploaded your passport, you will receive an email from UWF Study Abroad welcoming you to UWF and providing your UWF Student ID. That email has instructions for creating/activating your MyUWF account. Once you have activated the account, you will need to clear two holds on the account. The first is a financial hold that is basically like a fee payment agreement. If you are logged into your MyUWF account, you should see a messages box toward the top right of the page. You should see a message waiting there that will allow you to view and consent to the agreement. At that point, you should use the Search Bar to search for Immunization. It will bring you to a place where you can complete the Immunization Records form. NOTE: You do not need to submit records of the immunizations. Instead, just go through each section and choose the option to either decline or claim a waiver for the vaccine. In each case, you will be asked the reason and should indicate in the drop down box that you are an online-only student.

Then onto the issue of study-abroad insurance.  You’re required to have health insurance in place when you do any global program that matches a standard of coverage mandated by the state of Florida.  The easiest way to prove this is to just spend the $30-$50 that gets you a policy from our recommended provider at http://intlstudentprotection.com/get-a-quote/for-us-students-traveling-abroad/adventurer/.   Here’s the information you’ll need to lift the insurance hold posted at https://confluence.uwf.edu/display/public/Getting+Insurance+for+Study+Abroad.