Faculty Profiles: Dr. Noble

Tell us about your very first travel experience.

The first time I went to Europe was in the summer of 2000 for a two-week photography workshop in France conducted by Elizabeth Opalenik.  I had met Elizabeth at the Maine Photograph Workshops a few years earlier.  One of my friends was going to participate in the workshop, and he offered me free first class airfare if I wanted to go.  It was something I had dreamed about for so long and the opportunity just fell into my lap.  We shot nude models in the landscape of Provence.  The sunflowers and the lavender were in full bloom, and the pictures were beautiful.  After this experience, I was hooked on study abroad and I worked toward making it available to my students at ULM.

What made you decide to teach in Europe’s most moving classroom?

I had been working on The British Studies Program at USM for about 7 years.  When Doug and Rik introduced The Catalyst, I was hooked.  It sounded like such an exciting idea – something new and different.  I saw it as an organized backpacking experience across Europe, where students could experience many more cities and cultures.  In addition, I had already worked with most of the faculty for The Catalyst, and we had become good friends.

What makes your class on The Catalyst different than a course set in a traditional classroom?

We are out every day experiencing each of these fascinating cities.  I take students to the sites they have all heard of and want to see, i.e. the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace; but we also visit some of the off-the-beaten-path places, like a graffiti park in London, and VanGogh’s home in Paris.  Students also get to meet some of the artists/photographers who are living and working in each of the course cities.  In addition, we visit many of the major art museums that are available in these cities, i.e. The Louvre, The National Gallery, The Tate Modern.  This is a very different experience from sitting in a classroom and viewing a Powerpoint presentation.

What is your favorite city on The Catalyst and why?

Paris – no doubt.  The first few years that I taught in Paris, I did not like it.  It reminded me of New Orleans (I live in Louisiana) on steroids.  I love New Orleans, but it does have a dark, seedy side.  So does Paris.  For the past 5 years or so, I’ve discovered the neighborhoods and arrondissements that I love, and they have become my home.  I love sitting at sidewalk cafes and photographing or writing in my journal.  There is nothing like the cafe culture in Paris.

Tell us about a travel moment that changed your life perspective or worldview?

The experience that changed my life was the Elizabeth Opalenik workshop that I wrote about in question 1.  She is an internationally recognized photographer, who has worked for Vogue and other well-known fashion publications.  To study under her guidance was life-changing for me.

How long have you been going overseas to teach? How do your travels enhance the way that you teach and what you have to offer to Catalyst students?

I have been teaching abroad for the past 12 years.  I think travel is so important to artists and photographers.  It stimulates creativity and rejuvenates my enthusiasm for what I do the rest of the year.  I love seeing the student’s excitement when they first arrive in London and then watching the changes that they undergo over a 5 week semester.  I work with all levels, from beginners to advanced students.  Students work on individually designed projects, specifically targeting their own interests or passions.

What does your favorite teaching day on The Catalyst consist of?

I love going to Montmartre in Paris.  We begin in Pigalle, the red light district of Paris, where the Moulin Rouge is located.  We walk up the hill to VanGogh’s apartment, where he and his brother Theo lived.  We pass locations where Renoir painted the windmills that at one time were scattered all over the hilltop.  We arrive at the Sacre-Cour, a Catholic cathedral located at the highest point in Paris.  If it’s a clear day, the views of the city are panoramic.  From this location, we can see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and the Pompidou.  We tour the cathedral and then walk around the corner to the central square where many artists are painting portraits and landscapes of the city.  Some of the students like to have their portrait drawn at this time.  We normally stop for a coffee at one of the sidewalk cafes, in order to give students time to photograph this area as it is very colorful.  We begin walking down the hill and stop at Picasso’s studio, to photograph it.  We then walk over to the Montmartre Cemetery.  This place has a mystery of light and presence to it that is magical to photograph.  This day of shooting gives the students a sense of what 19th century Paris may have been like.  It’s a beautiful day.

How to Travel By Train in Europe

In most of the United States, citizens avoid having to use public transportation as a result of negative stigmas. However, in Europe, trains, trams, and buses are simple and pleasant modes of transportation, but they often intimidate Americans who are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of public transport.

On The Catalyst, you will use trains often, so it’s important that you feel comfortable hopping on a train, catching your connections, and arriving in your destination city. To ease your mind, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect when using trains as your main form of transportation while you’re studying abroad.

Purchase your ticket.

There are several ways that you can purchase your train tickets. You can buy them at the train station from a kiosk, from a website such as GoEuro or Trainline, or directly from the provider’s website. If you purchase your ticket at the station, you’ll need to find a machine to “validate” your ticket before you hop on the train. To do so, simply insert your ticket, and the machine will time stamp it.

If you purchase your ticket online, you can either print the ticket or you can use a digital ticket that you’ll keep in your phone. By using a digital ticket, you won’t have to validate it, and you can simply show your phone to the conductor when he or she checks your ticket.

Learn to read your ticket.

You’ll need to know which car you’ll be seated in as well as what your seat number is. If you don’t speak the language of your destination location, read your ticket before you leave and look up any words you don’t know. For instance, in French, voiture refers to car, and place refers to seat.

Find your platform.  

About 10-20 minutes before your train is scheduled to leave, you’ll need to figure out which platform you need to be standing on to catch your train. Some rail companies have apps that will notify you of this information, but the easiest way to find your platform is to look at the screens located around the station.  Check the train number on your ticket, and find it on the screen. If you’re having trouble figuring out the correct platform, make your way to Information and ask one of the station’s employees.

Stand on the portion of the platform that corresponds with your car.

Again, take a look at your ticket to see which car you’ll be seated in. When you get to the platform, there will likely be another screen that shows you where to stand. If there isn’t, a station employee will be there to tell you where to go. If the train arrives and you can’t figure out which car to get into, just get on the train (just make sure you are in the appropriate class) and walk through the cars until you find the one you should be in.

Place your luggage in the designated spaces in your train car.

When you make it into your car, put your bags in the luggage area. You can keep your carry-on with you as there are overhead compartments located above the seats. For security reasons, it’s best that you keep your valuables on your person while riding trains.

Don’t lose your ticket.

When you’re on the train, don’t misplace your ticket. When the conductor comes around, he or she will want to scan your ticket. If you don’t have it, you’ll be fined. I always advocate for e-tickets because it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll misplace your phone, thus saving you from paying an unnecessary fine.

Be aware of your connections.

When you’re on the train, set an alarm for five minutes before you need to get off to make your connection. If you’re worried about missing your stop, look up the train’s timetable or ask for it when you get to the station. The table will show every stop that the train makes, and you’ll know which stops come before your own. If your connection is short, find a screen, locate the correct platform, and run to it. If you miss a connection, take a deep breath and head to Information; they’ll help you sort things out.

As you ride your first European train, you’ll realize that trains in Europe are a wonderful and simple way to travel. Unlike planes, you won’t be restricted in terms of luggage, and you’ll have much more legroom to work with. Plus, the scenic views from your seat will be unforgettable images that you’ll take home with you to the United States. For many Americans, riding their first European train can be daunting, but the with the above information, you’ll be ready to ride trains like a local.

Tips for Planning Your Independent Travel

Planning your independent travel time on The Catalyst can feel like a daunting challenge, especially when you are new to traveling. You are tasked with the challenge of choosing the location(s) you’d like to visit, the people you would like to travel with, and the budget that you want to stick to. Combining all those factors in a way that that results in a fantastic travel experience requires significant pre-planning and an open mindset. Here are the most effective ways to plan your best independent travel on The Catalyst.

Discuss your budget with your classmates.

One of the first things that you should discuss with your peers before traveling together is your budget. Things can go awry when one student has a budget of 150 dollars a week while his or her travel partner has a budget of 500 dollars per week. Having vastly different expectations regarding travel expenses can result in arguments, resentment, and general discord among students. You are not required to travel with a student with a similar budget, of course; however, it would be wise to discuss finances with your travel buddies before you make any solid plans to jet off on your grand European adventure. If you are traveling with someone who has more or less money budgeted for travel than you do, be willing to talk about making financial compromises. Students with different budgets can travel happily together as long as they remain flexible and take their friends’ limitations into consideration. Keep in mind, you don’t have to have a huge budget to go on The Catalyst, and many of our students stick to budget-friendly travel plans without issue. 

Ask your potential partners what their perfect day would look like while traveling.

At Globalizedu, we like to conduct an exercise where students write down what their perfect travel days look like and then compare their answers with those of other students. Discussing the activities that you’d like to participate in while traveling with your group before you leave can be extremely helpful when it comes to travel expectations. For example, you might want to wake up late every day, wander around the city, and eat a huge dinner while traveling. Meanwhile, your travel partner wants to wake up at 7 am every day, go for a jog, spend 8 hours in a museum, eat dinner, and then go out to a bar. Those scenarios are entirely different when it comes to travel expectations. If you don’t discuss your travel needs before leaving for your independent travel, you and your group might be hit with some surprises. It’s important to come to an agreement among your group members regarding daily travel expectations. After some discussion, you may come to the conclusion that you and your travel buddy will split up during the day and meet up at night, allowing each of you to do exactly what you want while maintaining the benefits of group travel.

Come to an agreement regarding your independent-travel location, but keep an open mind.

Sometimes students approach their independent travel time with a one-track mindset. They believe that they absolutely must visit Munich, Germany or that they have to visit London, England. It’s wonderful when students come on the Catalyst with solid ideas about which locations they would like to visit on their independent travel weeks. However, sometimes, the students who are open to changing their travel plans are the students who have the most enriching experiences. The more you travel, the more you’ll realize that, occasionally, the plans we have our hearts set on simply do not work out the way we think they will. Prices for plane and train tickets can spike without notice, or your intended city might be completely booked because of a popular festival that will occur during your free travel time. The important thing is to understand that even when travel plans don’t work out, there are plenty of wonderful places to visit that might surprise you.

Becoming a good traveler is about learning to adapt to the unexpected. When things don’t go as planned, it’s important to remain as positive as possible and to be open to new experiences and possibilities. Maintaining open and honest communication with the people you’re traveling with is essential to having an enriching, worldly independent travel experience.


How I Studied Abroad for under $2,000

Visions of buttery croissants, crumbling ruins, and languid foreign languages saturate your nightly dreams. You secretly fancy yourself a future traveler, but your bank account a little on the short side. In a world full of social media influencers showing off luxurious travel itineraries and ostentatious Airbnb digs, travel can seem like an activity suitable only for the wealthy. Contrarily, if you’re a college student, you are in, financially-speaking, the best place a person could possibly be to travel. I studied abroad in the Fall 2015 semester, and with a little metaphorical elbow grease, I was able to keep my expenses for the entire program under $2,000. This goal may not be attainable for everyone, but if you are a person who is willing work hard for your dreams, you can study abroad on the cheap, too.  Here’s what I did to keep my study-abroad expenses under $2,000.

I found the right study-abroad scholarships.

The main way I reduced costs to study abroad was through scholarship money. Because you’re in college, you are privy to an array of scholarships meant specifically for study abroad students. If you go to a small school like I did, finding funding from your university will be easier than at a large one. However, if you go to a big school, don’t let this information get you down. Scholarships are abundant for those who work for them. Start your search in person. Go to your school’s study abroad office and ask if there are any open scholarships that you can apply for. If there are, hooray! If not, keep going. There are so many more options that you can take advantage of.

When searching the internet for scholarships, it will be helpful to know which country you plan to study abroad in. For instance, if you’re studying abroad in France, you’ll want to narrow down your Google search by typing in “France + study abroad + scholarships” or something to that effect. Finding a scholarship is like finding a job, the more specific you get, the easier it is to find scholarships. So go ahead, find your niche! Do you play an instrument? Are you a fantastic painter? Do your parents belong to any associations that give out scholarships? If you can’t think of anything, dig deeper, ask more questions. Scholarships are out there, but you won’t find the right ones without pushing.

I pulled out all the stops on my applications.

Once I found the right scholarships to apply for, I gave each application an enormous amount of attention. It’s not enough to write a lackluster application essay detailing why you deserve a particular scholarship. You’ve got to do some heavy-duty research to become the number one applicant in a pool full of smart, successful college students who want to study abroad just as much as you do.

The first thing you should do when applying for a scholarship is research the group awarding it. Find out what its mission is, what it promotes, and who its leaders are. You’ve got to wine and dine these groups if you want their cold hard cash. In your essay, tell them why you would be a great representative for their firm and what you can do for them. Point out specific details that you read in their mission statement, and explain why you connected with them. Effort is key when it comes to writing scholarship essays. In addition, do not address your scholarship “to whom it may concern.” It’s 2018; it’s easy to research who will be reading your essay. If you need to, call the group and ask! Nothing shows initiative like a good old-fashioned phone call.

When you get down to the nitty-gritty of writing, don’t be afraid to make your essay a little off beat. It made me nervous to show off my creative chops at first, but I didn’t regret the results they got me. Study abroad scholarships are popular, and to stand out, you’ve really got to think outside of the box. Don’t worry about not having much on your CV; if your personality and work ethic shine through on paper, you’ll be sure to get some attention and thus some serious dough to put toward your trip. If the process of writing essay after essay starts to get you down, don’t give up. You are in a position that many travelers who aren’t in college would kill to be in. Let your infinite possibilities be your greatest motivator. You. Will. Travel.

I got thrifty with my plane ticket.

Before I went to France, I made sure to make smart choices with my limited amounts of cash. My program was paid for with scholarships, but I still had to pay for my flight and spend money on food, activities, souvenirs, etc. Finding a cheap flight can be tedious, discouraging, and irritating. However, I’ve found that if you’re willing to put up with weird layovers and planes without TVs or “free” food, then you’ll be able to find some pretty great steals. You’re young; you can handle a little discomfort if that means you get to travel your little heart out, right? Another option for some people is asking their parents if they have accumulated any travel miles. Several people on my program got their flights paid for that way, and if you have that option, I say, go for it. I ended up working with a mixture of both. I used some of my dad’s flight miles and paid the rest off with excess scholarship dollars (Pro tip: clear your search history when googling flights. Websites store your data and hike up prices as you search for specific flights).

I planned my spending habits ahead.

When my plans to go to France for a semester were solidified, I knew that I couldn’t just go to Europe and spend my money all willy-nilly. I spent the month before I left estimating costs for food, trains, hostels, etc. To my surprise, I found that Europe was actually pretty inexpensive. I budgeted on the high end anyhow. It doesn’t hurt to over-budget and then have money left over when you under-spend. I made spreadsheets with all of my potential costs and came to France with a little more than my total projected budget for safety’s sake. If you want to keep yourself under budget, you have to be mindful of what you’re going to be spending. Also, I researched weather trends ahead of time that way I wouldn’t have to buy new clothes once I got to Europe.

I didn’t go crazy when I arrived.

Keeping your budget in mind before you travel is just as important as planning your spending habits before you leave. I’ll admit, I can be quite the spender, so I made sure that I was going to be able to reign myself in before I went on a semester-long trip to France. Regarding souvenirs, I made a deal with myself: I would buy Christmas ornaments and other tiny knick knacks for myself and my immediate family only. After all, I was going for the experience, not to lug around gifts and goodies all day.

For food, I kept things pretty simple. My program offered lunch every day and sometimes dinner too. And for all the other times that my stomach was growling, I went to the grocery store. Believe it or not, French grocery stores are way cheaper than their American counterparts. Plus, my friends and I would often go in on groceries together. This splitting of costs was a massive relief on my wallet; plus, we all got to cook together. Bonding!

Hostels are cheaappp.

If you’re studying abroad, that means that you’ll have the opportunity to stay in hostels. You may have heard some negative things about hostels, but worry not. Since your traveling with a program, you get built-in travel buddies, so you never have to stay in a hostel alone. In Munich, I stayed in a hostel with six beds, and I knew every single person in the room. To get to my real point, I saved a big chunk of money because I was willing to share a room with other people. In Paris, a notoriously budget-unfriendly city, you can stay in a hostel for 20 euro if you play your cards right. Hostels are strange concepts, but they can actually be fun. You’ll likely be close to the city center, and you can make some great new friends from all over the world.

To sum it all up, don’t count out studying abroad because your finances are tight. I certainly wasn’t going in with thousands and thousands of dollars to spend. If you work hard and stay persistent, you can make your dreams come true without all the debt. If you can get at least part of your trip covered, that’s an amazing step. Let careful planning and budgeting help you make your dreams come true. Trust me, when it comes to traveling, the risks are well worth the enormous rewards.

How to Handle Your Finances while Studying Abroad

For most students, studying abroad is a far-off dream, one that is often squashed by concerns over the financial aspects of overseas travel. What many students don’t realize is that one can travel on a budget with ease while in Europe.

Since you’ve made the wonderful decision to broaden your cultural horizons through a study abroad program, you’ll likely be operating on a budget. This task may seem daunting, but it is certainly feasible. If you can’t wrap your head around traveling through Europe on the cheap, read on for some tips that will keep your wallet happy.

Make a plan.

Drafting a budget game plan before you leave for your study abroad program is extremely helpful. Choose the dollar amount that you would like to remain within while on the trip, and then, by using that number, decide how much money you would like to spend a day. Keep in mind that each location you visit will require a different budget. For example, when I traveled in the summer of 2018, I made sure to allocate more funds for my week in Paris, France than for my time in Athens, Greece. If you’re not sure if a location is expensive or cheap, Google will be your best friend. There are tons of blogs that provide money diaries that outline costs of budget travel in particular cities. Use your resources and plan ahead if you want to save money on travel.

Tell your bank that you’re leaving and where you’ll be going.

It’s important that you give your bank this information because they might believe that your card has been stolen and freeze it. If you have a banking phone app, you may not even have to call your bank at all. Many banking apps have an option to notify them of your travel plans. If you don’t have an app, a simple phone call will do the trick.

Bring more than one card and make photocopies.

If you can bring more than one card, then do it. When I studied abroad, I brought a debit card for everyday use, and I opened up a credit card for emergencies. You may not have to ever use the credit card, but it’s good to have as back up. If you lose your only card, you’ll be in trouble. On that note, make sure you store both payment methods in different locations. For instance, when I studied abroad, I would keep my debit card in my purse and my credit card in an entirely different, weird place (like in a sock). It’s also a good idea to make copies of your cards to put in yet another location in your luggage or dorm. Keep copies of your debit or credit cards, passport, and health insurance card with your parents or a trusted friend back home in the states for another level of security while you’re abroad.

Take out cash from an ATM on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

When I studied abroad for a semester, I took out about 300-400 euro on a bi-weekly basis. I kept some of it in a secure location in my dorm room, and then I put the rest in my wallet. I wouldn’t go back to the ATM until my stash dwindled down to about 100 euro unless I was embarking on a free travel week or weekend. When you’re in Europe, using physical cash rather than a card can be helpful. You won’t be making any massive purchases, which is usually when Europeans use credit cards. When you’re at the local cafe, the waiter will probably give you a look (or refuse your method of payment) when you give him your debit card to pay for your 1.50 euro café au lait.

Also, it’s important to store your cash in different locations. For instance, have some in your wallet, some in a sock in your suitcase, some in your shoe, and some in a different part of your suitcase (I’m being a little dramatic here, but it’s always best to be overly cautious if you’re backpacking around a foreign country).

Check your bank accounts often.

Check them every single day if you can. Although I don’t know anyone who this has happened to while studying abroad, there are people in the United States and in Europe who want to steal bank information from unsuspecting travelers. If that happens, you’ll want to catch any discrepancies quickly so that you can freeze your card. Also, it’s important to check your bank account often so that you can keep yourself in check. For me, if I don’t look at my bank account for a while, I’m much more likely to overspend than if I had been looking at my banking app religiously. I know that a lot of other people, especially college students, get distracted by all of the delicious food and unique souvenirs offered in Europe. It’s okay to indulge in these things, of course, but it’s also important to limit your spending a little when you’re traveling on a budget.

You don’t really need an international phone plan when you’re traveling with a study abroad group.

 Unless you’re traveling alone, I’d say to save your money and rely on WiFi. If you don’t have a phone plan in Europe, you can connect to WiFi in your hostel, a Starbucks, an AirBnb, the airport, a train station, etc. I like using the Facebook Messenger app to call and message my family while I’m in Europe, and it generally works like a charm. If you are planning to travel alone at any time during your study abroad experience, it might be helpful to purchase a limited data plan for emergencies; just be careful to turn your data off when you’re done using it so you don’t get hit with any crazy fees.

Make pictures, not purchases.

Don’t go crazy with the souvenirs.

 Souvenirs are always fun to bring back to friends and family when you want to express what a fantastic time you had overseas; however, you don’t have to buy them to have wonderful keepsake memories of your trip. Purchasing little gifts in each location you travel to can get expensive, trust me. Plus, you’re probably packing light, and souvenirs can take up precious space in your bag. I suggest taking photos and printing them out when you get home. You can frame them, make a collage, or simply pin them to your wall. Also, postcards are fun to collect from each place you travel to, and they are very inexpensive. When I studied abroad, I kept a travel journal; I would write an entry and then tape or glue a postcard into the journal. It was a fun/cheap way to bring home something from each travel location. Overall, the memories you make while taking in history, culture, and new friendships will be more valuable than a physical item.

Stay in hostels or cheap AirBnbs.

If you’re studying abroad, that means that you’ll have the opportunity to stay in hostels. You may have heard some negative things about hostels, but worry not. Since your traveling with a program, you get built-in travel buddies, so you never have to stay in a hostel alone. When I went to Munich with Globalizedu, I stayed in a hostel with six beds, and I knew every single person in the room. By staying in hostels, I saved a big chunk of money because I was willing to share a room with other people. In Paris, a notoriously budget-unfriendly city, you can stay in a hostel for 20 euro if you play your cards right. Hostels are strange concepts, but they can actually be fun. You’ll likely be closer to the city center than if you stayed in a hotel, and you can make some great new friends from all over the world. Airbnbs are also great options when you’re traveling. If you share a room or an apartment with friends, you might have a more comfortable stay than you would in a hostel for the right price tag. However, be aware that you might forfeit a friendship-building experience by forgoing a hostel.

Bring your student ID for fantastic discounts. 

Your student ID can come in handy when you visit museums and historical sites. Although some discounts are only extended to EU citizens, many attractions will offer discounted or free admission to students from all over the world. For instance, in Madrid, I saved 30 euro with my student ID and got into the Prado Museum (the Spanish national art museum) for free! Don’t forget your ID at home if you want the chance to save some serious money.

Budgeting for your grand European tour doesn’t have to be a hassle if you do enough pre-planning. Just keep an eye on your bank account and follow the above tips, and you’ll come home with more money and less debt than you may have originally thought. Don’t worry about missing out on experiences as a result of finances. Many things in Europe are actually free; you just have to keep your eyes open for them. Au revoir, and get to budgeting!






A Last-Minute Study Abroad Checklist

It’s almost time for you to leave the United States for the adventure of a lifetime! You’ve got your bags all packed and have meticulously chosen each item of clothing and gear that you’ll bring with you. Are you prepared? Yes, but there are a few last minute items that should garner your attention before you leave the country. Here’s a last-minute study abroad checklist:

1. Check that you have your passport about four million times before you leave. 

Ok, so I might be exaggerating a little, but your passport is the key to your success while studying abroad. Before you depart, make several copies of your passport, and give them to your parents or a friend. Put one copy in your luggage, one in your wallet, one your shoe; you get the point. Also, when the time comes for you to leave for the airport, be absolutely positive that you have your real passport. When you get to the airport, be sure that you don’t misplace your passport or throw it into the bottom of your bag. Your passport is your golden ticket; don’t lose it. Guard it with your life. Make sure that it is always in a secure location. If for some reason you do lose your passport while traveling, you’ll have a copy to take to the US Embassy, making a tedious process much simpler.

2. Check that you have your converter.

 Nothing is worse than arriving in Europe with a dead phone, taking out your charger, and realizing that you forgot your converter in the United States. Like your passport, check multiple times that you have your converter.

3. Bring some headphones. 

This might seem obvious, but I’ve had friends who had all of their travel gear together, but they still forgot their headphones. Bummer. You might get complimentary headphones on your flight (rare), but they won’t be good. Bring your favorite pair of headphones to increase your quality of flight. Also, when you inevitably wait for your flight at the airport, your headphones will drown out the many voices, crying babies, and other various noises of your terminal.

4. If you’ve got one, weigh your checked bag.

Before you leave, be sure that your checked bag is under 50 pounds. If it’s over the weight limit, you’ll get charged. For example, at Delta (one of the more understanding carriers), “slightly overweight checked bags (51 to 70 pounds) will cost you an extra $100, while really heavy loads (71 to 100 pounds) will do serious damage, at $200 each.” Don’t get charged, and pack light. Any items that are heavy should be placed in your carry on because the airlines won’t weigh it. That is, unless you’ve opted into a discount, basic fare that requires you to adhere to strange baggage restrictions.

5. Pack the essentials in your carry-on. 

If you’re checking a bag, don’t put anything that you absolutely must have in it. Pack chargers, laptops, jewelry, underwear, one change of clothes, your toothbrush, a copy of your passport, and any other item you can’t live without in your carry-on bag. If your checked bag gets lost, which it probably won’t, then you’ll have the items you need to get by until your bag is delivered to you.

6. Get to the airport with plenty of time to get through security, check in, get yourself together, etc. 

When traveling internationally, two hours early is usually the rule of thumb, but you can get there earlier if you want to. Just don’t be the person freaking out in security and then making a mad dash for her gate. Try your best not to begin your trip this way; it can be a downer.

7. Bring a sweater or hoodie and socks on the plane.

When you’re on a red-eye flight to Paris, you’ll probably fall asleep. To do so, you’ll need to be comfy, and planes can get cold and, well, uncomfortable. Even if you’re not using your hoodie, you can scrunch it up into a makeshift pillow, a tactic I have employed many times before. Socks can be nice as well because, again, the plane is likely to be chilly.

8. Bring a physical copy of a book.

When you’re trying to conserve your phone’s battery, cracking open a hard copy can make life easier. On my last trip, I didn’t bring a book and sorely regretted it until I could make my way to Shakespeare and Company in Paris (along with maintaining a rich literary history, the shop sells books in English). After I had picked up a couple of Hemingways, I was able to enjoy my train rides without having to use up my precious battery life. Bring a beat-up copy that you can ditch when your load gets too heavy.

9. Consider bringing along a light-weight tote bag. 

You know, those reusable grocery bags people bring to the store. When you go to the grocery store in Europe, you’ll have to pay for disposable grocery bags unless you bring your own. Most Europeans bring their own bags, so you’ll fit right in if you do the same. Tote bags fit really well into luggage and can be useful if you buy souvenirs that you have no place to put at the end of your trip.

10. Wear slip-on shoes to the airport if you can.

Airport security can be a pain, but when you wear shoes that can be easily slipped on and off, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. People get antsy in security lines, so it’s a plus to be able to get in and out as fast as humanly possible.

11. Keep your devices charged or bring a portable charger.

Here’s the thing about airports; they are notoriously stingy with their outlets. Depending on which airport you’re flying out of, you may have access to one or you may not. For instance, the Atlanta airport has more outlets than say, the Newark airport (not. one. outlet. in. sight.). However, just to be safe, you could bring a portable charger. If you end up sitting around in the airport waiting for a delayed flight, you won’t have to worry about your phone dying before you get to Paris.

12. If you have an iPhone, put your tickets in Apple Wallet.

I owe my life to Apple Wallet (dramatic again; I know), but seriously, Apple Wallet is the best thing since sliced bread. When you check into your flight, press the little button that says “add to Apple Wallet,” and voila! You now have your tickets in the phone that is always glued to your body. There’s no chance of losing your important tickets now! You can even add train tickets to apple wallet. If you do so, you don’t have to go through the extra step of validating your ticket. Plus, when the conductor shows up at your seat to check your ticket, you won’t have to inform him or her in a fit of panic that you accidentally threw your ticket away or lost it. Your ticket will be in your Apple Wallet, all ready to be scanned (no fining for you!). I’m not sure if there is an Android equivalent to Apple Wallet, but it’s worth checking out if you’re one to misplace tiny pieces of paper when you’re overwhelmed.

13. Add your card of choice to Apple Pay. 

The last time I went to Europe, I noticed many people using Apple Pay at stores, and I ended up using it as well. If you’re worried about credit-card security, Apple Pay is a great option because it’s even more secure than using a chip. You can use Apple Pay at a growing number of establishments, especially in big cities like Paris, London, and Barcelona. Here’s a link that shows you how to use Apple Pay. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201239#stores

14. Download maps.me.

Maps.me is an app that allows you to pre-download walking directions in your chosen destination. If you don’t have data, this app can be extremely helpful for when you get lost (you will get lost at least once, no matter how much pre-planning you do). You can download these maps before you leave the United States if you want to take advantage of your home wifi connection while you can.

You’re all set! Traveling through Europe is an engaging, eye-opening experience for students that pushes them out of their comfort zones. You will have a wonderful time finding new things, learning new lessons, and getting lost in new places. See you in France!