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Fall 2018

How to Travel on a Budget

By Dina Merani

Howdy…  I know we all have a lot of things on our plate this semester. I hope everyone is doing well so far this semester. Don’t stress about your college life. iIf you find something in your life that you don’t like, or you’re having trouble achieving what you want, hang in there. Keep fighting for it and I believe you can do it. No matter what happens it’s life, and this is how the cookie crumbles. If you cannot do one thing that you want, try another thing that you like or something else that makes you happy. What makes you happy will make your life way better than what you had lost before. Exploring the world and traveling can be the best way for you to make you happier. While you’re traveling, you might find some new things. Speaking of traveling, you might say traveling is my Middle Name, and I always looking for new places to go. You may think that traveling costs so much money because you need a hotel and good food. First, if your goal is just to see that place, you are in the right place, because I am going to give 5 ways to travel on a budget.

Dina in an airport with luggage and stuffed animal

Dina in an airport, sitting at a gate

Photography by Zac Clough

1. Travel with friend

Dina and friend on railroad tracks

Dina and friend at Golden Gate Bridge

A friend is someone who is always there for you when you are happy and sad. They always support you no matter what happens to you. If you have that kind of friend (bestie), you can ask your friend to go traveling with you. Why your friend? By traveling with your bestie, you and your bestie and share some things together. For example, looking for a cheap hostel that you and your friend can stay in together. If you want a cheaper option, there is Airbnb. This type of accommodation is often way cheaper than hostel. You can look for the cheapest one and you and your friend can stay in same room and split the price. This is I did when I went to Seattle and San Francisco for the first time. I always go with my bestie and we always share everything, and if either of us needs food or money, we can help each other.

2. Make Friends

Dina and friends posing outside airport with luggage

Photography by Zac Clough

Make as many friends as you can, especially make friends from different countries. By making lots of friends you can travel to where they live more easily. They might help you with food or accommodations when you come visit them. Which means you don’t need to pay lot of money for accommodation and food. I did the same thing when I visited Portland. I have friends there, they helped me with accommodations (I stayed with them) and cooked for myself in their place, and it was so exciting that I could spend some time with them as well.

3. Join Club on Campus (Group Tour)

Dina and friends walking into airport with luggage
There will many different clubs on campus, and in those clubs there may be a trip to go somewhere. By joining and becoming an active member in your club, you might get a chance to go to a new place for a small amount of money and people in your group may help you with that. For example, I joined the University of Montana Pacific Islander Club last year and became active in it this semester by get involved in meetings and others club events. Through this club, I might get go to Hawaii next year over Spring Break. How fun and exciting! Oh my… I can’t wait for this trip. See? Some clubs at the University can give benefits for you and who knows? You might get the same chance like me .

4. Cook by yourself

If you don’t have enough money to buy food while you’re traveling, you can cook by yourself. That’s cheaper than you eating at a restaurant. Not only that, but  food that you cook by yourself can be more delicious than the food in five star hotels or restaurants.

5. Be brave

Oh yeah, without bravery, you cannot go traveling. You should have that bravery in yourself. Just makes sure you’re brave when you get stuck somewhere or your bestie is not with you. In my experience, I didn’t have enough money to buy an airplane ticket and I really wanted to travel. I decided to travel 11 hours by myself by bus and I did it. I arrived safety. All that I needed was to be brave.

Dina with coffee on a subway

Dina on a subway

All these experiences are just so amazing to me and I’m so happy that I got to share this with you all. Hopefully there is one or two tips that you can try on your trip whenever you wanna go. Thank you so much to spend time reading this. XOXO @dMerani95.

Spring 2018

My Study Abroad Experience

With less than two months left in beautiful Montana, where the sun is finally starting to come out, I’m more and more often finding myself reflecting on my time here. I am an international student from New Zealand and have been here at the University of Montana on exchange since fall 2017. The decision to study abroad wasn’t one I took lightly, but it ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined and made friends and memories that I know I will treasure forever. So, for my final post here on Trendsetters at the U, I’d like to share with you my experience as an international exchange student.

I came to Montana with no idea what to expect. I’ll admit that my first night was filled with a lot of fear. I’d spent 31 hours on planes and in airports, and finally ended up in a strange place where the air was filled with smoke and everyone drove on the wrong side of the road. After sleeping for what must have been about three days, though, I ventured out into Missoula and discovered a vibrant city full of friendly people.

Tents and people at an event at Caras Park in summer

Dog walking on trail in forrest

I started to connect with people and make friends who were more than happy to open my eyes to American culture. I celebrated my first Halloween, complete with encountering an orange pumpkin (ours are green) for the first time at the Trendsetters fall photoshoot. I left my mark on the UM Hello Walk for Homecoming and spent an amazing weekend at Silver Lake in Washington with my church’s campus ministry. I learned pretty fast that Americans put their whole heart into everything they do. I fell in love with Thanksgiving – the way you reserve the whole day just for being thankful and loving your family truly warms my heart.

Hannah and friend in Halloween makeup

Hannah with pumpkin

Large group photo in front of lake

Eventually, the infamous Montana winter arrived. Being from a part of New Zealand that’s at low altitude and very rainy, my experience with snow had been very limited. So, when snow touched down in Missoula, I was naturally very excited about it. Unfortunately, none of my friends really shared this enthusiasm. I left Montana over the winter break but managed to get in a good taste of the cold before I left – we might have looked toasty and warm at the Trendsetters holiday shoot, but it was absolutely freezing that day!

Hannah in snow

Hannah from the Trendsetters Holiday shoot

My winter break was spent travelling around California before heading up to Canada – it was a very weird trip to pack for. In California, I got a lot of much-needed beach time and had an awesome time thrift shopping in San Francisco.

Hannah on rock overlooking ocean

Hannah and friend on street in Sacramento

On my way back to Montana, I took a detour to BC, Canada to meet up with an old friend for the first time in seven years. We did some beautiful hikes and visited yet more beaches (can you tell I grew up on an island?) Undeniably, my favorite part of studying abroad has been the travel I’ve got to do – to be able to do all of this while in college is an absolute dream.

Hannah with large redwood

Bridge in forrest

Hannah and friend on beach

By the time I returned to Montana for the spring semester, I felt like a different person than that scared girl who stepped off the plane last August. I’d seen so many new and beautiful things in such a short time, and I’d met people who would change my life. Even though I chose to study abroad to learn about the world, I ended up learning so much more about myself. I’m so incredibly grateful for the people – especially for Trendsetters and my amazing friends – who grew my confidence and made this experience all that it was for me. And for anyone who’s reading this and wondering if study abroad is for them, I say go for it! (I hear New Zealand is pretty nice, just saying)

Group photo from the Holiday shoot

Hannah and friends

Photography by Aleksandra Was and Hannah