How To Make The Most Of Your Study Abroad Experience

Your time abroad will be one of the most enriching experiences of your life – if you work at it. Before you go, pinpoint a few goals that will help you make the most of your time in a new country.

Here are a few tips on ensuring a great study abroad experience:

Don’t overdo it with Facebook and Skype

Especially at the beginning of your trip, you’ll probably want to talk to your friends and family back home a lot to make your transition easier. Though it’s important to stay in touch, resist the urge to spend hours at a time on Facebook or Skype chatting with friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend.

It isn’t realistic to expect to talk with friends as often as you would if you were back home, so limit yourself to a few set times each week. Your time abroad will be over quicker than you think, and you don’t want to look back and realize you spent most of it at your computer.

Meet locals

American students abroad have a natural tendency to stick together. Hanging out with other Americans is great, but only if you actively try to assimilate to the culture you’re in. Making friends with locals will enrich your experience abroad.

Locals can teach you about their culture, show you around and help you get adjusted to life in a new county. And don’t be shy – they’re just as curious about your culture as you are about theirs.

Travel, but not too much

When you’re abroad, you’ll find that it’s extremely easy to travel cheaply. Discount airlines offer flights for prices lower than some bus tickets in the states, making it easy for you to be in a different country every weekend. However, if you do that, you might miss out on things going on in the city you chose to study in.

When I was abroad in Bilbao, Spain, a lot of people went away every week and didn’t really get to know the city we were in. So if you can, set aside a few weeks before or after your program to visit all the locations you want to see all at once. If your program has a break, that would also be a good time to take a longer trip.

Go with the flow

There might be some aspects of the country you’re staying in that you don’t like. Maybe the buses run behind schedule, the food isn’t cooked the way you like, or things are less organized than you’re used to.

Since these are cultural differences that you can’t change, it’s best to not let them get in the way of enjoying your time abroad.

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Selma Haveric

Selma Haveric

Selma Haveric is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying journalism and Spanish. When she’s not studying, she loves reading, traveling and bike riding. She’s currently deciding whether to go to law school or to postpone her studies for a year and teach English in Spain.
Selma Haveric

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