Campus Life by the numbers

Nine tips about spending the summer abroad

Know the emergency number, at the very least

I spent this past summer in Cambridge, England doing an IROP. From learning differences between British and American English to visiting the hospital, I can definitely say I had a blast. Here are some tips if you ever decide to spend the summer abroad.

  1. Learn the language! I spent my summer in England, so I was thankfully spared from a language barrier... except not really. They call “flashlights” “torches,” and they call “arugula” “rocket.” Imagine my confusion when offered a “rocket salad.” Like I said, learn the language.

  2. Google Maps is your best friend. Not only does it tell you where it’s legal to bike, walk, and drive, it also lets you re-route to include a grocery pitstop on the way home.

  3. Don’t be shy — meet people! Over the summer, I met PhD students hailing from Switzerland, Austria, and China who all had very different perspectives on life than the classic MIT student.

  4. Know the emergency number in your country. As someone who had to go to the hospital (for an ankle sprain, don’t worry), I regret not knowing beforehand what the 9-1-1 equivalent is.

  5. Know the time difference between your time zone and your home time zone. Calling your parents or friends at 4 a.m. doesn’t go over too well.

  6. Depending on where you are, you might develop the habit to look the wrong way when crossing the street. Remember to switch back when you return to the U.S.!

  7. If you get the chance, try the local favorites. In Cambridge, for example, kebabs and falafel are incredibly popular (and really good).

  8. Also visit the grocery store and buy something. A lot of the time, it’s a little more telling about the culture than the restaurants, especially if you’re centered in a tourist-dense location.

  9. Lastly, explore in your own way. Everyone adapts to new environments differently, and if your way is to sit on a park bench and people-watch or to go out clubbing, do it!