So, university has begun and you are past the Fresher love for your new town or city. You reminisce about your Gap Year or wish you had taken a year to really "find yourself". Easter and summer breaks offer the perfect opportunity to break out of the library and travel. But which kind of cultural experience are you after? A historical discovery, traditional tourist style culture? Or the not so new culture of the party-heavy, "lad's weeks" seen in destinations such as Magaluf and Ibiza?
It's easy to understand why Europe is very popular among the student population, it offers cheaper destinations than many other places, the culture barrier isn't huge and it's far enough away from home to be considered travelling while still close enough to have that parental safety net. But why have British students got such a bad reputation for the 'Lads on Tour' style holidays as seen in The Inbetweeners Movie? The effects of binge drinking in the UK's youth population is well documented, however, this culture is spreading out into group holidays abroad where alcohol seems cheaper and rules appear less strict.
This myth though is categorically wrong. Yes in many European countries a glass of wine is customary with lunch and dinner, but so is a glass of water. Being drunk and disorderly is still illegal, and if you break the law abroad, British Embassies can't nullify your arrest just because you're British. For example, in Spain there are strict rules and regulations on drinking in a public place. By breaking these laws you can be given a hefty fine, or worse get arrested.
Now some places like Ibiza have been made into crazy holiday destinations targeted specifically at young people. Quad bikes are the easiest way to travel and jet skis provide great entertainment when you can't lie on the beach anymore. Both these activities are great fun but most student travel insurance won't cover these more 'extreme' activities. In fact, it might be worth that extra tenner, to make sure you're fully covered, as emergency surgery in Spain for a broken leg could cost you around £6,000!
Now I'm not against these fun holidays, but I do have to concede that they're probably more dangerous than the average tourist visit to Europe. The Eiffel Tower, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the canals of Venice are great examples of classic cultural experiences that every student idealises. Even these have their risks though! In Florence, eating and drinking directly in front of some churches is an offence as well as buying from illegal street traders. In Turkey you have to make sure you're dressed modestly if you plan to visit a mosque or religious shrine and it's important to ask permission before taking a photograph of somebody.
So whether you want the sun and the nightlife or prefer a stroll around Venice and its many Basilicas, make sure you know what you are allowed to do and where. It's that time of year so get booking those weekends away, just check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Advice website first: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice