We’ve all heard that college is the best four years of your life. So that must make your semester abroad the best four months of your life, right?
Heading off to a foreign country with friends during your 20’s is no doubt going to be an amazing experience — so you want to make sure that you do it the right way and take advantage of every possible thing that you’ll have available to you. When you get back to the U.S., having regrets is not an option. You’ll want to look back on your abroad experience and think, “If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.” So, in order to get the most out of your time there, we recommend that you follow these tips for studying abroad.
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1. Consider the language
This may not be an important factor for everyone, but you may want to be familiar with the language of the country you’re visiting. Often times, people will choose a destination based on their knowledge of the language, like if you’ve taken French for four years, you may want to consider studying in France.
2. Appeal to your taste buds
It sounds silly, but the food is a huge part of your study abroad experience! After all, it’s what you’ll be eating for the next four months or so. If you’re not into Italian cuisine (which, you’d be totally crazy because, HELLO, cannolis?!) then studying in Italy may not be your best option. Or, make sure you’re at least willing to experience new tastes and expand your palette.
3. Immerse yourself in the culture
While you’re in the country, make sure you really get to know the country. Where are the most popular spots for locals, not just tourists? What do the people of that country do? What stories does the country/city have to tell? Find out what makes your new home unique — because you won’t be able to experience it from anywhere else. Psst, we’ve heard there are secret bakeries in Italy where you can buy a super-late night snack. All you have to do is smell them out!
4. Plan lots of trips
Sure, you might be studying specifically in one country, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t visit others on the weekends or breaks and explore all new things. Studying abroad in the fall semester? Make it a point to head to Germany for Oktoberfest. Or, if you’re abroad second semester, plan your spring break to Ibiza! Wherever you’re studying, make it a point to get a taste of the neighboring countries and cities.
5. Spend smart
It’s no question that studying abroad is on the expensive side. After all, you can’t just swipe for every meal with your university ID. This is why we say: use your money wisely! Of course, money is better spent on experiences than material items, but do remember that giving yourself a reasonable budget in both areas is a good idea. Setting a weekly limit might be a good idea, where you can spend a little here and there without going broke in the first month and having to call home for more money. Plus, it saves mom and dad — or your bank account — the extra hurt.
6. Capture it all
Above all, the most important thing to do when you’re away on your semester abroad is document EVERYTHING! Be “that” person who takes pictures of practically every meal, every sunset, and every moment. You may get a few groans from friends, but they’ll be thanking you in the end when you’ve got all those pictures to look back on. Bonus points if you’re into writing (or not) and you keep some sort of journal/blog. That way, you can read it in the future or share with family and friends while you’re away!
How are you prepping to study abroad?