3 Tips for Studying Abroad
We help you prepare for your big trip.
During their college years, many students take advantage of their school’s study abroad program. These types of programs allow students to spend one (or more) semesters in a foreign country, while continuing to take classes.
This is an amazing opportunity to travel to a new place and engage in practical learning, beyond what you’ll find in textbooks.
If your study abroad semester is coming up, or if it is something you think you’d like to do in the future, here are ways to make the most out of your time.
Traveling to a different country through your school’s travel abroad program can be a great addition to your college years. (iStock)
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- Write down goals
- Get your travel documents in order early
- Figure out your financials
- Begin to learn the language of the country you’ll be living in
- Research the country ahead of time
- Keep a travel journal during your stay
- Make friends, both within your program and locals
- Embrace every opportunity that comes your way
- Push yourself to be extroverted
1. Write down goals
Take time to write down the goals you have before you leave. If writing isn’t really your thing, you can also make a vision board to display your goals in photographs.
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Before you go, jot down goals you want to accomplish while you are away. (Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Whether you write down just a few key items, or you have a long list, writing goals early can help remind you of the things you want to accomplish while you are on your trip. Also, these goals are not the only ones you can have. You can always add more to your list during your travels.
2. Get your travel documents in order early
Travel documents can take a long time to get prepared, so it’s vital to gather them as soon as you can, rather than scrambling at the last minute.
The main documents you’ll need are a passport and a visa, depending on the length of your program.
3. Figure out your financials
You likely won’t be making income while you are studying abroad, so you’ll want to save up money beforehand that will have you covered while you’re away.
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Create a budget for yourself to follow while you are in another country. (iStock)
The sooner you decide you’ll be studying abroad, the better, since you’ll be able to work extra hours before you leave and start putting money aside.
This will also be an important time to make a budget, so you aren’t overspending during the semester. Create a rough budget to stick to before you leave, and then make any adjustments necessary once you get there.
4. Begin to learn the language of the country you’ll be living in
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to learn a new language. You’ll get a better grasp of the language once you spend time around people using it, but it will be helpful to begin learning the basics before you go.
5. Research the country ahead of time
If you are heading to a place you’ve never visited, or spent minimal time in, you’ll want to conduct basic research on the country before you leave.
Research on the country you are visiting so you’ll know what to expect when you arrive. (iStock)
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Do research to determine landmarks and sights you want to see while you’re abroad and find some information on the laws and proper etiquette in the foreign country.
6. Keep a travel journal during your stay
Once you arrive, get in the habit of writing in a journal at the end of each day. Write down everything you did, what you learned and what you’re looking forward to. You’ll be thankful you kept a journal to look back on after your trip. Also, take lots of pictures and create a scrapbook of your journey.
If writing really isn’t your thing, another option is to create a video diary of your trip, where instead of writing, you take a short clip on your phone or camera each day talking about what you did. You can combine this with pictures and videos of you exploring so you can show everyone back home.
7. Make friends, both within your program and locals
Studying abroad affords you opportunities to meet many new people, both students in your program and locals.
Locals can teach you so much about the country and can also help you learn the language.
Studying abroad can introduce you to many new people you would not have met otherwise. (iStock)
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8. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so take advantage of the experience at hand. Visit everything you wanted to visit, spend time fully embracing the culture and learn as much as possible.
9. Push yourself to be extroverted
While this is easier said than done, take studying abroad as a chance to be extra extroverted and eager to learn.
If you sit back and wait for things to come to you, you’re probably not going to have the experience you imagined. Ask questions, be present and enjoy every minute.
Ashlyn Messier is a writer for Fox News Digital.