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5 Tips to Make the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

A study abroad trip is not something to let pass you by. Here are five tips to make the most of your experience and get all the benefits out of your program.

Studying abroad is something millions of students do. They may travel with a certain program, attend prestigious foreign schools, or simply go to experience the culture and lifestyle in another country. It’s an experience like no other that allows you to immerse yourself in a different place while completing your degree along the way. While you should work hard at your schoolwork, a study abroad trip can be so much more than that—and you need to take advantage of it. With that in mind, here are five ways you can make the most of your study abroad trip.

1. Learn all you can about where you’re going

Learning is the most crucial part of any study abroad trip. While learning in a classroom is great, learning about the culture you’ll be immersing yourself in when you go abroad is also a good idea. You should learn about the country’s traditions, some of the basic language, and the cuisine. Basically, just soak up all you can. If you end up really liking where you studied, be sure to also educate yourself on the process of becoming a citizen in case it’s something you’re interested in down the line. This might seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are resources such as Express Entry PR that can help you out if becoming a permanent resident is your goal. 

Related: Preparing for Your Adventures Abroad

2. Set goals for your trip

Before you even set off on your study abroad trip, it’s a good idea to set some goals for yourself. Exploring a new country without a plan can be overwhelming, as there’s a ton to do and see. You need to have a rough idea of the things you want to see, do, and achieve before your trip is over. If not, you may not get as much out of the experience as you would have liked. 

Unfortunately, setting goals isn’t always easy. If you want to achieve the best results with your goal setting, consider setting SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. As far as what these goals are, that’s entirely up to you. They could be achieving a certain grade, learning a certain amount of words, or even learning to cook some of the native cuisine. By having these goals in place, you’ll have things to work toward that’ll keep you on the right path and busy during your trip.

3. Make meaningful connections

Another way to make the most of your trip is to make meaningful connections with others. Not only can these connections potentially help you out with your studies or future career, but you can also make some new lifelong friends from around the globe. While you’ll almost surely connect with other students in your program, consider befriending local students and others around town. These individuals can help immerse you more in the culture and understand things better. It also broadens your perspective. You can meet people at sporting events, cafés, festivals, and other things happening near where you’re studying. It can be hard to develop friendships and then leave these new friends, but it’s still worth it. With social media and video calling services readily available everywhere, keeping in touch with foreign friends is easier than ever.

Related: 7 Exciting Reasons You Should Study Abroad

4. Set time aside for yourself

While learning, studying, and reaching your goals is important, you also need to ensure you set aside some time for yourself during your trip. This time should be dedicated to doing exactly what you want to do. You could visit a museum, lie on the beach, play video games, go out on the town, or anything else that rejuvenates you.

Remember, not everything you do needs to be according to plan and focused on learning or bettering yourself. If you don’t have a little fun on the side, you’ll only regret it in the future. Don’t go overboard with this, but give yourself a day every now and then to simply do what you want, whether it’s productive or not. Of course, you always want to be safe and know the rules, traditions, and customs where you are. The last thing you want to do is offend anyone or break a law you didn’t know existed, so do some research before going off on your own.

5. Have a plan for homesickness

No matter how excited you are for your journey, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some homesickness while you’re away. You may miss your pet, your family, your friends, or even your bed. Whatever it is, ensure you have a way to deal with this. If not, some days will be spent sulking in bed and questioning the whole trip. If you feel homesick, a quick video or phone call with someone from home can be just what you need. Keeping busy can be another great way to fight off homesickness. But if you spend too much time reaching out to friends and family, it’s probably only going to make you miss them more, so be sure to find the right balance.

Related: Bringing Your Cell Phone to Study Abroad: What You Need to Consider

Go and explore, meet new people, join activities, and do things you enjoy to keep busy during your adventure abroad! Take advantage of this opportunity you’ve been given to grow  and immerse yourself in another culture. Using these five tips will ensure that your study abroad trip is as successful and rewarding as possible. 

Check out the tag “study abroad” for loads of great advice on making your experience the best it can possibly be.

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experiential learning international studies student life study abroad study abroad programs travel

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