8 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad

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1. You have a lot more free time then you’re probably used to in college.

Instead of the usual loads of homework and studying that you normally would have during the semester, study abroad classes usually give you the luxury of having free time to explore your city and take in cultural experiences as your “homework.” This can be a blessing or a curse for some people, but trying new things is usually the best place to start.

2. Everyone is wearing the same outfits on rotation every week, don’t stress about that.

As someone that was a little tiny bit concerned about the fact that I would have to fit three seasons of clothes into one fifty pound bag, it’s really not a big deal. Everyone is outfit repeating every week and honestly no one is probably even noticing.

3. You can lose the few extra pounds when you get back.

At home, I’m the person that picks the gym over hanging with friends, studying, and pretty much anything. But while I was abroad, don’t make working out your priority. You have your whole life to go to the gym, you’re probably only going to be living in Europe once.

4. Piggy-backing off of #3, spending a few hundred dollars extra is not going to matter in two years.

Don’t limit yourself too much while abroad. Obviously, everyone’s financial situation is very different, but in a few years you aren’t going to regret going out to try new things. Don’t pick the least expensive thing on the menu because it’s the least expensive, eat what you want if you’re able and limit yourself at other points of your trip.

5. Take a break when needed.

The first couple weeks of abroad are the most social you probably have had to be since starting college, and that can be exhausting. Self-care, mentally and physically, is super important the entirety of abroad. 

6. If you’re offered a class to take the native language, do it.

For many people, there is no other time when you will be living in the same foreign country for months at a time. Take advantage of being able to full immerse yourself by studying the language; even four months of class will help you more than you think. 

7. Take advantage of all the free things abroad.

If it’s an included trip on your program or something free in time, chances are it will not only be super fun but also a cultural experience.

8. There’s no right or wrong way to have an abroad experience.

It’s very easy to look at someone’s abroad experience and say “They didn’t travel enough” or “they traveled too much” or “they spent too much of their time doing this or that.” Everyone goes abroad for different reasons; it’s a personal thing. Do whatever makes you happy, live your best life, and surround yourself with people that also agree with your mentality and you’ll be golden. 

This post was contributed by Anna Freeda, a student from the University of Connecticut who is spending her spring semester studying abroad with AIFS in Salzburg, Austria.

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