How to Make the Most of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is a wonderful experience that gives college students the opportunity to meet new people, travel to exciting destinations, and pick up or improve foreign language skills. Here are a few ways to make the most of studying abroad and have as memorable an experience as possible!

Making Friends: Pick Up an Activity or Sport

President of the Theater Club? Intramural referee? Active in community service? When studying abroad, take an activity of interest from home and find an opportunity to pursue it in the foreign country. It’s a great way to meet new people. Alternatively, take advantage of being away from the normal hectic schedule (no soccer practice every day, no campus job, and no student activities meetings while abroad), and use that time to participate in a new activity.

Traveling: Experience New Places

Take advantage of being a student! Now is the time to capitalize on student discounts for travel. See if it’s possible to, within the destination country, get a special train and/or bus discount card at a special student rate. Through Websites check branches in many countries around the world, and they offer low prices on flights, hotels/hostels, and so forth. Also check out Hostel World for cheap, student-centric accommodation.

Learning a Language: Get Out There and Talk!

Whether it’s through taking a class or just by going to a local hangout spot and meeting native speakers, there are plenty of opportunities to improve foreign language skills and build confidence when speaking that language. Don’t just spend time with students who speak the same native language, get out there and meet other international students, with whom it’s also possible to practice language learning.

Additional Tips for Making the Most of Studying Abroad

When participating in a study abroad program or enrolling directly in a foreign university, be sure to take advantage of all that the overseas school has to offer. Student events (concerts, lectures, coffee hours, sporting events, and so forth) are great ways to experience the country’s culture and meet new people.

A few other bits of advice:

  • Take the opportunity to experience both solo and group travel. Don’t be afraid to travel alone, but be sure to stay street smart when doing so.
  • Go see a movie made in the foreign country and filmed in the country’s native language.
  • Take a walk around the city or town upon arrival, and make time to learn how to get around.
  • Find a couple of regular hangout places to go with friends in order to feel more at home in the new city.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends at home, but don’t spend an excessive amount of time doing so. Studying abroad is a time to experience new things and meet new people. Enjoy it!

When spending a semester or year in another country, be sure to take advantages of opportunities to meet new people, travel, and develop foreign language skills (if in a country that speaks a different language). Doing so will help enrich the overall study abroad experience, and make it even more memorable and life-changing.

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