No two study abroad experiences are the same. For many, a semester abroad is the best time in their life; however, it is not that way for everyone. There are some that go home early due to homesickness and others who spend the whole semester or summer hanging out only with people from their home country. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your study abroad experience:
1- Choose the right location
Choosing the right location is hugely important. Consider picking somewhere you have always wanted to go. There will likely not be many times in your life that you are able to live in a foreign country for months, so studying abroad is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a country that you have always been fascinated by. Other factors to consider are the classes you need to take and if your home university will accept the classes taken at your potential host university.
2- Save money before you leave
Living abroad, depending on the location, can be quite expensive. Even after paying your program fees (inclusions such as accommodation and meals vary by program) and airfare, your spending is not all behind you. Prepare yourself to spend money on the basic costs of living that may be more expensive than they are at home. Large cities in developed countries are particularly notorious for draining a student’s account. Also, consider exchange rates which may not allow you to stretch a dollar as far as you normally can.
Most of your expenses will likely come from traveling. Very few people who study abroad spend the whole time in one location. Living abroad puts you close to places you would otherwise be a long way from, and weekend trips are quite common among study abroad students. Be sure you have saved enough money so that you can do a fair bit of traveling while abroad.
3- Interact with the locals
Interacting with the locals is an important part of immersing yourself in the culture of a country. If you are at a proper university, join student clubs that you are interested in. This will give you an opportunity to meet people outside of the classroom.
4- Don’t waste time
Using an entire afternoon to binge-watch a season on Netflix may be a common occurrence for you at home, but this usually isn’t a good use of time while traveling abroad. Use that time to research things to do in your area and do them. If you are looking to save money, visit a free museum or go to the beach.
5- Remember to take it all in
A semester abroad can fly by. Remember to take it all in and appreciate the experience of studying in a foreign country. Take pictures, but don’t let taking pictures prohibit you from seeing the sights with your own eyes. Put the phone down and look around you.
Studying abroad is a wonderful thing. It is a fun and beneficial experience that only few decide to do. Use these tips to help you have the best time possible during your time abroad.