Studying abroad is a great way to experience a new culture, meet amazing new people, and broaden your horizons in a truly unique way. Providing inspiration and insight into how other people live their lives, it's an experience that will stay with you forever. With that said, studying abroad can be a little stressful and lonely, particularly if you struggle to adapt to new surroundings. To help you enjoy every second of your time overseas, here’s a comprehensive list of advice and tips to keep by your side during your travels!
1. Set goals for clear direction
Goals give you the direction and structure you need to get the most out of every single day. Without goals to shoot for, it’s all too easy to end up drifting through your time abroad just playing on your phone or lounging around and not making the most of it. Write down what you want to achieve, both in and out of your study abroad program, and pin these notes to your wall so you can read them every night before going to bed and every morning when you wake up. This will give you the motivation you need to go out there and get the most out of a truly special experience.
2. Track your days
Having a calendar on the wall and crossing off the days until you fly home will do two things: First, it will show you that nothing is forever, which is important when you’re tempted to throw in the towel after homesickness creeps in. Second, it will focus your mind on how long you have to prepare for exams and how many days you have left to explore your new home away from home.
3. Balance your studies and exploration
Taking time off from studying really is vital, especially when you’re in another country. Not only will it give you a chance to go and explore the sights and meet the locals, but you’ll also take new ideas and concepts you’ve learned through your studies out to the real world—a vital part of the learning process if ever there were one.
4. Learn to manage your stress
Just like on your home campus, one of the most important things you can do during study abroad is to take control of your mental health by being proactive in your approach to managing stress. Being a student is not as easy as the stereotypes and naysayers will have you believe—especially in a new country—so ignore them and focus on your own needs. It’s what will give you a solid and resilient foundation that will last a lifetime.
5. Make the most of it
Making the most of your time abroad might sound like obvious advice, but you’d be amazed at the amount of students who don’t seem to think about it until they’re already home. If you’re lucky enough to have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study a subject that fascinates you while also getting to explore a whole new country, take advantage of it as much as possible. The world is your oyster. So go out there, get to know people, and make the most of it. Live with the sense of freedom that simply won’t be available to you when you enter the working world.
6. Give your program your all
One of the most common mistakes study abroad students make is treating it like a vacation that will never end. Just because you’re on a different campus and away from your normal classes doesn’t mean you’re there to just make up the numbers. You need to return home with your GPA intact, so make sure you give your studies care and attention from the moment you arrive.
7. Embrace the new language and culture
If you’re studying in a non-English-speaking country, it’s important to embrace the new language. Even if you don’t have a natural talent for languages, you’ll soon pick up the lingo when it’s all you’re hearing. It will allow you to make new friendships that last a lifetime, and the real-world experience will help you in your studies and future career.
8. Keep an open mind
Keeping an open mind is the best way to ensure you really embrace the local culture while studying abroad. Embracing the situation will keep you rested, relaxed, and refreshed, and it will also help ensure you don’t miss out on any of the excitement. What could be better when you want to get the most out of your time abroad?
9. Have a plan for when you head home
You need to think about how your time abroad will impact the rest of your college career. Be sure to choose courses that fulfill degree requirements and take advantage of any specialties that aren’t offered back home. It’s a great way to get even more out of your time abroad than just new friends and cultural experiences. Ideally, you want to return home with a thorough grounding in your subject that you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
Putting a few of these tips into practice will help you enjoy your time studying abroad even more. It’s perfectly natural to feel a little nervous or shy, but try not to let that stand in the way of enjoying everything your new country and campus have to offer. This will be one of the best experiences of your life, and you’ll look back on it with pride and fond memories for years to come.
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