If your university offers study abroad, do it. College is already a unique experience and time in your life serving as a crossover period between teenagehood and adulthood. During that era, having the opportunity to explore another country and fully immerse into the culture without having to worry about major responsibilities is unparalleled.
If you want to take media courses in London, business electives in Shanghai, or humanities classes in Abu Dhabi, you’ll earn college credits and stamps on your passport. Plus, studying abroad isn’t as expensive as many assume. There are plenty of ways to make the trip affordable and fit the cost within any budget. Whether you’re gearing up for your flight or considering the idea, we’ve curated 10 tips to maximize your study abroad experience.
1. List everything you would like to do during your time abroad
While a semester may feel like a long time, it is only four months. Hold yourself accountable and list out everything you strive to accomplish during your time abroad. In between classes take the time to explore TikTok or sites like Time Out and make a compilation of different art exhibitions, festivals, restaurants, parks, and historical sites you may want to visit.
2. Do not be afraid to do things by yourself
Studying abroad is a personal journey. Doing things alone will allow you to challenge yourself to navigate the city, meet new people, and find some new hotspots to show off on Instagram. To ensure your safety, share your location with a friend in your program as well as a family member from back home.
3. Participate in as many of the planned activities that your school is offering while you are abroad.
Feeling homesick, lonely, or even liberated are shared experiences that are not unique to yourself. You won’t be the only one who came abroad with nothing but their bags and a plan. Be open to others who you might not have met back home.
4. Be open to new experiences
The most enriching part of studying abroad is being immersed in a new culture different from what you may be accustomed to. While something may feel strange or brand new to you, these traditions or customs are a part of people’s everyday lives. Treat these customs with respect and always be willing to learn and participate in cultural activities.
5. Try to make friends that are local to the city you are studying in
While interacting with locals may be intimidating, asking for suggestions to forge small conversations could go a long way. Experiencing the city with those who call it their home is one of the most authentic ways to get to know the small things or unknown tidbits around town. Not only that, but they could learn a thing or two from you as well.
6. Learn the history of the city or country by visiting sites and museums
Before any trip, no matter the length, it is crucial to learn about the history and certain customs of the culture to show the utmost respect to the people who inhabit the country. Many of these countries have long, complicated accounts that have greatly influenced how the country is occupied today. Taking the time to learn about their history will allow you to understand the citizens on a deeper level, while educating other tourists and foreigners.
7. Plan and budget for trips you want to take
While studying abroad, especially in Europe, South America, Asia, or Africa, you will have easier access to many countries that cost a fortune to travel to when you are in the United States. Although it can be expensive, budgeting can help greatly before going abroad. If you are still planning your study abroad journey, take the time to look up different grants and scholarships that they offer specifically for these types of endeavors.
8. Journal, everything! From your day-to-day experiences to your once-in-a-lifetime opportunities
Journaling is a great way to be present and genuinely lament your experiences. You get to experience your raw emotions all over again when reading a journal entry by dissecting your feelings and reliving your experiences through photographs and your own words.
9. Pick up souvenirs for yourself, your family, and your friends
Pack light to save room in your luggage for souvenirs. Whether for yourself, family or friends, It will allow someone you love to have a personal connection to where you traveled and may influence them to want to travel somewhere for the first time. For yourself, a personal artifact of the time you went overseas, especially if you’re not sure when’s the next time you’ll be back.
10. Walk around the neighborhood you are staying in or schooling near
Walking around new cities allows you to develop more intimate relationships and interact more closely with the people, the shops, restaurants and even the architecture. It’s as simple as finding a cafe you love and going there every day or even meeting your next-door neighbor who you now have conversations with daily. These walks will allow you to develop your story and truly connect with the area around you.