One thing that's become really apparent, from talking with Universities & Study Abroad Programs, is that students don't research their destination, local culture etc before they go.
So when they're at their study abroad destination, the lack of insight into making the most of their time in an incredible city is lost on them. When they return and are asked 'how was it, tell us tales & fabulous stories,' they tend to say 'great, loved it' and then there's this excruciating silence. They didn't make the most of the destination and that was because they didn't research it in advance so weren't inspired or geared up with the right mindset.
Now thinking back to trips I've taken over the years, maybe it's my personality but I always research my destination. Even if only the basics. But from talking with more friends and family about this topic, I discovered that 80% just do not prepare in any way. They simply tip up off the plane and expect the experience to come to them.
If someone invited you to see a band/group/concert that you'd not heard of, would you hand over $100 for the ticket and say "Yes, i'm in, i'll not research to see if I actually want to spend my hard earned cash on this group or if it's my taste in music. Let me be a rebel and just show up!" Course you wouldn't.
When it comes to travel, we pay 000's of moolah to pack a suitcase, sit at an airport, get on a plane, check into a hotel and throughout this maybe 4 or 12 or 19 hour journey (not accounting the 2 months since the trip was booked), we've not remotely checked the basics of the city we're visiting.
How about the culture and things to see/do in advance, what about a simple research for 20 mins, maybe a fast Google search on local events at the time you'll be there? A quick hunt on travel sites to find the common denominator sights, museums, attractions etc is all it takes.
I truly thought everyone at least researched the minority of details before a trip but apparently not. Most of us just don't consider this, presuming that, at the destination, the culture and sights will come to us. Yes, most people do think the Leaning Tower walks around Pisa, finding tourists and tomatoes throw themselves at La Tomatina!
Don't ever underestimate the attractions of a city, the excitement it can give you if you're prepared in advance or the elbow grease power in gaging the flow of the city.
Research in advance and I guarantee, it'll be music to your ears! :)
Written and contributed by Heddi