One Longhorn Visits 13 Countries While Studying Abroad
Six months, 13 countries, and 31 cities—nomadic Longhorn Paul Ngo took advantage of all Europe had to offer while studying abroad this spring. Take a peek at his travels and learn which city was his favorite. (It may surprise you!)
The reality of working a full-time, corporate job in Houston this summer hasn’t quite settled in for Longhorn Paul Ngo. After traveling to 31 different cities in 13 countries during the spring semester, the UT finance junior feels like he’s just on another stop of his journey.
“I haven't really felt much ‘culture shock’ yet,” Ngo says. “My body genuinely feels like I'm on another trip and that I'm going to be back in Paris within the week.”
As a participant of the McCombs School of Business’ exchange program at Ecole Superieure de Commerce de Paris, the Paris branch of a European business school, Ngo was able to balance completing a marketing minor with seeing the sights of Europe over a six-month period. Before embarking on his study abroad program, he had created a list of the places he wanted to visit—37 cities in 19 countries, to be exact.
“Each place I went to had something unique that was a reason to travel to it,” he says.
Ngo left only six locations on his list unchecked, due to issues with time, scheduling, and cost. Out of all the countries he visited, he says Greece particularly stood out because of its friendly people, amazing food, and spectacular views that appeared to be straight off a postcard. While on the island of Santorini, which he describes as “the most beautiful place he’s ever been to,” Ngo rode ATVs from town to town—one of his favorite memories from his travels. When it comes to picking a favorite city, though, Ngo points to Prague, a city that typically flies under the radar but is gaining notoriety for its architectural beauty and affordability.
Looking back, Ngo doesn’t hesitate to admit that he probably could have saved money if he’d put more time into carefully planning his itinerary. That’s one of his biggest takeaways for students considering traveling during their study abroad programs. He recommends using sites like Skyscanner to search for flights, then booking tickets at least three weeks in advance through the actual airline. Another tip: make sure to secure essentials (phone, wallet, etc.) while riding public transit. With the hectic jumps between two or three cities in just four days, Ngo says, this lessened his chances of getting pickpocketed.
For those students who are hesitant to study abroad because of potential homesickness or fear, Ngo offers up this piece of advice:
“If you ever get the chance to go abroad, don't think about what you're going to miss in Austin and don't think about being scared,” he says. “I have never heard anyone say they did not enjoy their time abroad. If college is about learning more about yourself and about the world around you, it’s a no-brainer.”
By Larisa Manescu
Top, Ngo in Santorini, Greece. Inset, Ngo and friends visiting the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Photos courtesy Paul Ngo.