How to Make the Most of You Study Abroad Experience
For many students across the country, studying abroad is an exciting part of their college, or even high school, experience. Whether it’s a full semester stay in London or a two-month immersion program in China during the summer, students are eager to explore another country and culture while continuing their studies.
While studying abroad can be a one-of-a-kind learning experience, it is important for students to prioritize the academic component of their journey and avoid treating the trip like an extended vacation. Keep reading for some of our top tips to help you make the most of your study abroad experience.
Set Some Goals
Studying in a foreign country can give students the opportunity to work on their foreign language skills, learn about a new culture, and explore different hobbies and interests. In order to keep yourself accountable and focused throughout your trip, consider setting a few objectives and intentions for your journey. Reflect on what you would like to take away from this experience and any new tools or skills you would like to obtain during your time away. Write down these goals, review them, and add any new objectives that come to mind throughout your trip.
Prioritize Your Studies
Study abroad is exactly that—the opportunity to continue learning while spending time in a foreign country. While the travel component may feel like vacation, it is important to keep your academic goals in mind. Make sure you attend each class you are enrolled in, study for exams, and stay on top of assignments, just as you would during another semester on campus. Save the majority of your sightseeing and touring for the weekends so that you can focus on schoolwork during the week.
Expand Your Social Circle
Having a tight-knit circle of friends on campus is great, however, it is unlikely that you and your closest classmates will study abroad at the same place and time. Although it’s normal to miss your friends at home, take advantage of your travel experience by getting to know the other people in your study abroad program. Attend orientation events, group dinners, and post-class activities to begin to familiarize yourself with your new peers. Whether you bond with students from other universities or your own, use this time outside of your comfort zone to practice your networking skills and connect with people you haven’t had a chance to meet before.
See the City
While academics should be your priority, don’t forget to pencil in time to explore the region you are studying in. Before your trip, research the city or town you are traveling to and make a list of all of the noteworthy landmarks, museums, and restaurants. Try to visit at least a few of these must-see spots each week in order to explore the city outside of your classroom. If you have friends that previously studied abroad in the same location, don’t be afraid to reach out to them for recommendations.
Whether you miss your roommate or feel seriously homesick, set aside time to reach out to friends and family back home. Scheduling weekly calls, Skypes, or email exchanges can help you feel connected while also providing you with ample time to make new friends and explore the city you are visiting. It is important to make the most of your time abroad, but that doesn’t mean you need to forget about your campus and hometown. Strive to focus on your current learning opportunities, but reach out to friends and family from time to time to give them updates and curb homesickness.
Much like gap years and summer programs, study abroad can be an excellent opportunity for students to step outside of their comfort zone and expand their learning horizons. If you are interested in studying in a foreign country, don’t be afraid to reach out to a school counselor, teacher, or independent college admissions counselor for guidance. Our team of college admissions counselors can help students identify new learning opportunities abroad, including summer experiences that can help them stand out in the college admissions process. Contact us today for more information!