When I first signed up for the Georgia study abroad program I was very hesitant. After all, Georgia has only been an independent democratic state since 1991. But I take off today for this beautiful country the size of Illinois.
My banks told me to carry cash and could not protect my security because Georgia was considered to be a “high risk” country. Also many banks’ exchange rates at ATMs are about 3 percent of what you take out. So, for example, if you take out $100 USD expect to be hit with a minimum $3 transaction fee, plus the fee the bank charges. Just in case you are worried about carrying wads of cash on you …
My hesitance and fear started to accumulate more.
But as I started my packing, I thought of all the beautiful places and wonderful people I will surely meet. I arrive earlier than the faculty-led program and will have to stay in an Air BnB for a couple of days before the rest of my peers arrive in Georgia. As I prepared for my trip I packed the essentials and made sure to take a big enough bag to bring back gifts for all my friends and family.
One thing American students should know is Georgia will double your money. The American dollar is worth 2.3 times that of the Georgian Lari since the Brexit. What a beautiful thing. right? Being an SDSU student, you know how to save your money – especially living in San Diego – so it will be nice to have a chance to be a little bit of a “baller” in Europe.
I also wanted to offer this word of advice to my fellow vegan travelers: Take a list or know a list of native fruits and vegetables. I made a list of fruits and veggies that I can buy at local markets. My program will be staying at a hotel and I refuse to eat meat or stop being vegan. Do your research before you go. This will no doubt save you from eating a poor sentient being on your travels. I am a California native and eat about two avocados a day for my fatty and amino acids, so finding fruits that a packed with the same nutrients is key to survival!!
Here is link to wonderful site that has a list of vegan and vegetarian dishes in Tbilisi, Georgia and local farmer’s market in Tbilisi. I know I will definitely get most of my food from local places. It’s just like being back here at the San Diego farmer’s market – or at least that’s what I soon hope to find out.
Safe travels to all!
Vicky Madera is an international security and conflict resolution senior. She is travelling this summer on a faculty-led program in Georgia.