How to maximize your Study Abroad experience
Studying abroad can be challenging, fun, frightening and amazing all at once. Make sure you make the most of your studies abroad. Here are our best tips.
Reality never matches the dream
One thing is for sure when you study abroad: your experience will differ from what you envisioned before you left home. It doesn’t mean that it will be bad, but it will be different. There are some dull routine days even when you study abroad, and in the beginning, you might feel a bit lonely. However, when your classes start you will meet a lot of new people. Most students enjoy their studies abroad more the longer they stay.
Keep calm and don’t panic
I’ve studied abroad myself several times, and the first night it’s not unusual to wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into. I have seen students panic and go back home just hours after arriving, without having given it a fair chance or even setting foot in the school. Make sure that this is not you! Prepare yourself for the fact that your accommodation, your school, and the city will not look just as you have imagined it, and it might take some time to find friends. It is usually enough to arrive the week before the school starts, especially if you’re going alone. That way you don’t have to spend so many days on your own before the school starts, and you get a social context where you will get to know people.
Keep busy to avoid homesickness
Don’t spend too much time alone in your room, chatting with friends and family at home. That’s an easy way to get homesick. Go out, explore your new city and country. Be active and sign up for activities organized by the school or join those planned by your friends. Say yes! You will return home eventually, but you can only experience your Study Abroad period right here and now!
Make the most of your studies
Studying is, of course, a central part of your studies abroad. Remember that and try and learn as much as possible. If you are taking a language course in France you want to come home and be good at speaking French, right? Then you need to make an effort and study during your free time as well. Make sure you take your studies seriously, you will still have time to have fun, and you will feel a lot better.
Set goals and make a plan to achieve them
Why do you want to study abroad? What do you want to achieve and experience? Take some time to think about your goals before you leave and before you choose a school. If your goal is to improve your CV and study a year at the best possible school your choices and experience will be vastly different than if you just want to have fun and see the world. There are no rights or wrongs, but even if you just want to go somewhere for the experience it’s worth thinking about what you want to see and do.
Remember your goals when you are abroad and think about how you are going to achieve them. Without a plan there is a risk that time passes, and before you know it it will be time to go home again. Then it will be too late to do everything that you wanted to do, so start working towards your goals right away.
Network and make friends for life
Most people are looking for new friends when they study abroad. Try to get to know people; it will pay off and give you a better understanding of other cultures. You might find friends for life, meet your significant other or find a future business partner.
If you get to know a professor, they might agree to be your reference when you apply for jobs or other universities in the future. Don’t forget to update your CV with your studies abroad and any jobs you might have had during your time abroad.
Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity to see the world and grow as a person. You will most likely look back at this time with joy later in life so make the most of your time abroad and don’t forget to have fun!