Home Lifestyle So you want to Study Abroad: Ten Tips

So you want to Study Abroad: Ten Tips

written by Elizabeth Ashley February 16, 2017

After studying abroad I can easily say that it was one of the best things I did in college thus far. I not only learned a lot about the world but I also learned so much about myself. I struggled with anxiety and part of my reasoning for studying abroad was proving to myself that I wasn’t going to let it get in the way of living my life. It made me stronger and more welcoming to the unknown, a trait that will help me the rest of my life. Since studying abroad was so rewarding to me, I love sharing tips and tricks for people who want to go! Here are the top ten tips I wish I knew!

  1. Research and talk to people who have done the program you want to do – There is no better way to really know about your program than to talk to someone who already has done it. Our home school was able to hook us up with a few people who had already attended Bocconi in Milan. This helped us better understand what we were getting into. It’s also important to realize that they test a lot different than we do in the USA. For example, we only had one test the entire semester and that is what our grade was based on.
  2. Make sure you know the basics of the native language – We aren’t fluent in Italian but we can hold a conversation, ask directions and other basics. It is true that a lot of people speak English in Europe but I felt like it was more respectful to at least try to speak their language. 🙂 Plus, you’ll be able to meet more people and understand the culture better.
  3. Always be prepared for something to go wrong and be okay with it – If you get super stressed out if something out of your control (or even in your control) goes wrong, change. Of course there is a level of worry that helps you, like motivates you to pack faster or something along those lines. On the flip side of the coin, over stressing can cause your study abroad experience to be NOT FUN. The bad news is flights get delayed, sometimes you’ll lock your keys in the Airbnb with you luggage inside (true story), and sometimes the bus will be late. The good news is, IT WILL BE OKAY! Even if you get sick while you are abroad it is important to know that it will be okay. This will change you as a person if you get stressed over the little things. Go with the flow!
  4. Call your mom, trust me you’ll want to… – If you are anything like me or any other normal person, you will get homesick. You are in a completely new country to you with different norms and a different language and things are hard at first. In between having fun and studying, you will get homesick. Call your mom or your family, its okay to have a breakdown but remember where you are and remember to tell them how much fun you are having as well.
  5. Make sure you actually study – Honestly, this was the hardest part about studying abroad for me! You are having so much fun and traveling so much sometimes you lose track of your studies. Don’t do this! You are mainly there for school so let it come first.
  6. Remember you don’t have to see it all – While boarding our plane home I was so upset that I didn’t get to see Greece or Morocco. Even after seeing 15+ countries I felt this way and it was totally unreasonable. I realized that I have my entire life ahead of me to see those countries! You think those 5 to 6 months are forever but they aren’t and you won’t be able to see everything on your list (if your list is the same size as mine!) and that’s okay. Be grateful for all the amazing things you will see. 🙂
  7. Check the weather – Before you go, make a list of the places you want to see and check the weather there. Pack for the coolest place and the warmest place on your list. We took a weekend in Ireland and I did not dress warm enough at all! I obviously didn’t check the weather so learn from my mistake!
  8. Don’t over pack – When packing use space bags to fit more but remember it will still weigh the same! Beware of baggage fees. You might even want to be a minimalist and try the 3-33 challenge! Looking back I wish I had done this, if you don’t know what it is check it out on Youtube.
  9. Meet new people – You won’t truly experience a culture until you meet it’s people. We met people every where we went; airports, bus stops, Airbnb hosts, bars, tours and so many other random places. When going country to country so fast you will be able to tell the difference in norms!
  10. Save VS Splurge – Know when to save and when to splurge. Looking back I think I would have saved more on where we slept and spent more on tours and experiences. These are the things you will remember more than where you slept that night. Apply this to everything, like have a nice meal in Italy but don’t make every meal nice! Also, save for this trip extensively try not to get in debt for it like me! 😉

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