To study abroad is to become a global citizen. As such, it is important to leave your host country with a positive impression of you/your culture/the US by respecting the local culture, history, language, and environment. Making a conscious effort to reduce your environmental footprint while traveling is also part of being a global citizen and learning how to live sustainably in your host country is no different from learning how to adapt to local customs, accents, or dress. It requires a concentrated effort to understand not only local sustainability efforts, but how you can help support them.
Be mindful of waste
Pay attention to how waste is handled in your host country. Do locals recycle? What about compost? How does waste management differ from home? Remember that throwing the wrong or dirty materials into a recycling or compost bin can contaminate the whole amount of waste, resulting in it being sent to the landfill instead.
Conserve water and energy
Many countries abroad conserve water and energy a lot more than in the US, either due to the price, the availability, or the public commitment to sustainability. This can mean many things: taking shorter showers, hand-washing dishes, air-drying laundry, and turning off power sockets, lights, and other uses of energy.
Use public transportation
Public transportation (trains, buses, metros) will generally be much more robust than what you are used to, and as a student, your ability to travel in your host country will be determined by its availability. Public transportation, as well as traveling by bike, is not only more sustainable than travel by car or airplane but is an inexpensive way to explore. Depending on the duration of your stay, you might want to get a bike rental pass or a metro pass. Likewise, it may be both easier and more fun to look into traveling by train rather than by plane, which will allow you to limit your carbon emissions while also being able to see much more of your host country and surrounding areas.
Explore sustainable diets
A quintessential element of travel is the food. While studying abroad, look carefully at what the locals eat, and what foods result in the lowest carbon footprint. Vegetables, legumes, and grains are all great choices; eggs, yogurt, fish, and poultry also provide many nutrients while leaving a medium carbon footprint. To have the lowest impact with your food choices, eat pork, cheese, beef, and lamb rarely or not at all.