Because studying abroad is a very rich experience, we’ve created a mini guide for you to make the most out of your trip.
1. Immerse yourself in the local culture. You have chosen to study in a foreign country because you are excited about its culture, and because you want to broaden your perspective on the world. Therefore, you should seize every opportunity you have to try something new, have a new experience, and step out of your comfort zone. Here’s what you should do:
- If you’re in a country where a foreign language is spoken, try to speak and read the language as much as possible.
- Though you’ll crave your old favorite foods, try to eat as much local food as possible.
- Enjoy the local music and dance culture. Go to a show or a concert.
- Watch local films. Go to the movies in your new city. You’ll have fun even if you don’t understand anything.
- Go to as many museums, exhibits, and other cultural venues as possible.
2. Hang out with the right people. A big part of having the perfect study abroad experience is who you hang out with. If you have the right company, you could end up learning a lot more about the culture. Here’s what you can do:
- Find a few trusted friends in your group. It’s good to maintain relationships with people from your program so you can stay grounded, participate in fun activities, and not feel too lonely.
- Focus on making friends with the natives; they will know where to eat, where to go out, and where the tourist traps are. Your main goal should be to avoid being just another tourist.
3. Take the opportunity to travel. If you’re studying abroad, then there’s a good chance that you’re living within just hundreds of miles of many fantastic destinations. Seize the opportunity to visit a few exotic places you have never been.
- Try to bring a travel buddy or two with you wherever you go. Not only will it make traveling more fun, but it will be safer too.
- Hostels can be a fun place to stay and a great way to meet people.
- If you do travel out of the country, always let your friends and study abroad teachers and administrators know about it in advance.
4. Don’t forget to learn something. It’s called “study” abroad for a reason, which is that you will be spending half of your time either in class, or learning about the local culture through educational trips. Don’t forget how absolutely amazing it is to get first-hand knowledge. Here’s what you should do:
- Don’t blow off class. Take the time to pay attention, take notes, and do well on exams, just as you would do back home.
- Take the time to talk to your teachers. They are real representatives of the local culture and they can teach you a lot.
- Pay attention on the tour bus and listen to what the guide is saying.
- When you’re hanging out with locals, use them as an opportunity to learn something about the attitude and perspectives of the local culture.
5. Beat homesickness. It may be hard for you to imagine that you might not love every second of the experience. However, you should expect that there will come a time when you miss your family, your friends, and your country. Being prepared for this in advance will make it easier for you to cope with homesickness. Here are some things you can do to beat homesickness:
- If you’re feeling homesick, make a list of all the amazing opportunities you’re getting just by studying abroad, such as meeting new people and trying delicious foods. This will make you feel more grateful for your experience.
- Talk to other students who are studying abroad. It’s likely that they have had or are having the same experience, and they may have some coping tips.
- Stay in touch with people from home. Email, Facebook or talk to your family over the phone when you can.
- Don’t forget to pack a few things that remind you of home. This could be as simple as your favorite stuffed animal, favorite CD, or a collection of your favorite movies.
6. Stay safe. Though you may be studying abroad with students from your college, you should never forget that you are in a foreign country. This may sound obvious, but it means that you should not conduct yourself as you would in your school back home. You are in a new environment, and you may be surrounded by people who you just met or whom you don’t know at all, so you should keep your guard up. Here’s what you need to do to have a fun and safe study abroad experience:
- Know your address. Keep it programmed in your phone, written a piece of paper in your wallet, and memorized.
- Follow the rules. You can still be adventurous without being reckless.