What to expect from a uni field trip and how to prepare

14 Jun 2019
By Ella S., Student at Birmingham City University

It’s exciting for sure, going on holiday, somewhere new, with your uni mates. I went to New York! As a course group, we’d never been further than Amsterdam so this was a big step for all of us.

But as well as being excited I was also a little nervous. I didn’t know quite what to expect as no one had told me what was going to happen.

Make plans to see a show, or a band, and see if any of your coursemates want to go too.

Here’s what to expect from, and how to prepare for, your first trip with uni.

Plan your own itinerary

Make plans to see a show, or a band, and see if any of your coursemates want to go too.

Your uni will plan activities related to your course, and really make the most of these opportunities. But there’ll be plenty of time for you to do and see things you want to as well.

I wanted to see the Statue of Liberty when I was in the Big Apple. But my university had got me a ticket to see the live filming of the TV show The View. Which am I more likely to get a chance to do again? Exactly, Lady Liberty would have to wait for another trip.

Make plans to see a show, or a band, and see if any of your coursemates want to go too. Most of us were not that close before the trip but ended up going to all sorts of attractions together. We absolutely loved Chicago and would definitely recommend!

Check the rules

In New York, the legal age for drinking is 21. As my trip was for all three years, a lot of the freshers were not able to drink out there. Which is totally fine, you can drink back home if you want to. But there’s plenty of non-alcoholic fun to be had, like going up the Rockefeller and seeing the skyline (it’s worth it)!

Also, check whether you need to do or get anything to enter the country. Your uni will explain this to you, but it’s best to do it sooner rather than later. For New York, we needed ESTAs. It’s super-easy to do and it's pretty cheap, but you ain’t getting in without one.

Arrive early for your flight and other plans

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A big one. The stress my poor lecturer had trying to find one of the students on our trip turned him grey. Poor guy. Plus, it’s really not great to be waiting for someone when you could be out exploring!

So, always plan to be early then if you’re running late you will still actually be on time. Then you can always grab a bite to eat or a coffee if you’ve got time to kill.

Pack smart and as light as you can

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It’s not a fashion show. Keep your travel wardrobe small. If you want to look good and have an aesthetic for Instagram (mine was neutrals) go for it, but don’t bring a massive suitcase because you’re the one that has to carry it around.

My suitcase was small and I still got sick of it. But some of the other people on the trip had huge cases! Check the weather constantly before you go, so you’re not caught off guard. We had sun for the first few days then torrential rain, so thank goodness I packed my umbrella!

Get organised before you fly

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I found it useful to have my travel insurance, passport, ticket, ESTA, and medical records together in a little pouch. If, like me, you have an epipen, you’ll need your prescription to get this through security. This way, all the things you need at the airport are in one place, and you don’t have to be that guy who loses his passport. And put all your liquids in a small plastic bag when you pack, so you’re not awkwardly holding up the queue at security.

When it comes to seats on the plane, accept that there’s a lot of you and you’re not gonna be sat with your bestie. It’s going to be random so deal with that ahead of time and don’t make your lecturer’s life hell. They can’t help it. You can switch around when you’re in the air anyway, it’s fine.

Also, a big one, when the flight time says 12:30, this does not mean show up at the gate at 12:30. That is when you take off, as we had to explain to our friends who sprinted through Heathrow not realising this and nearly missed the flight. It was tense.

Broaden your social circle

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Don’t just stick with your normal clique. Talk to new people! You will all bond, especially if you have communal bathrooms like on my trip - brushing your teeth with your classmates in your PJs is very cute.

You’re making memories for forever so jump on every opportunity you can. And lastly, enjoy yourself. Wherever you go just be super-prepared and research ahead of time so when you’re there you can absolutely make the most of it.

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I’m Ella, I’m 21 and in my third year at Birmingham City University. I’m currently studying Media and Communications specialising in Radio however I do study photography modules too.