Let’s Chat…Embarking on a Semester Abroad!
Welcome back, everyone! Merry (Belated) Christmas, Happy (Belated) Hannukah, and happy holidays to all those celebrating throughout this month and next. As we quickly approach the new year, we thought we would leave a PSA for our students gearing up for their study abroad semester. Read below for our best preparation and travel tips to ensure you kick off the trip as smooth as possible!
What is ‘Study Abroad’?
At many Universities, colleges will partner with international Universities across the world. Mainly in Europe, programs are often offered on many different continents: South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia to name a few. So, if you’re someone who is interested in travel, has planned ahead for your course requirements, is pursuing a language degree, or is otherwise looking to take advantage of this unique opportunity… studying abroad sounds like a great fit for you!
- Extra Tip: Make sure to attend study abroad fairs to learn about program options, connect with your advisor so as to ensure you’re staying on track toward your degree, and evaluate the costs of the program as they relate to your ‘typical’ semester tuition, daily expenses, transportation, etc.
The most obvious “first step” of studying abroad is leaving home! Whether this means you’ll be traveling to a new University, state, or an entirely new country, step one will always be the same. So, how do you start?!
- Check out online packing lists: One of the best resources we have is Google! Online, there are a plethora of packing lists to help students plan to study abroad, as well as embark on their weekend excursions. One of my favorite blogs is written by Margot Lee: How to Pack for Study Abroad and Packing List! Always remember, pack light! You will likely pick up a few souvenirs and new pieces of clothing during your time abroad, so make sure to only pack essential items and leave room for some fun, new purchases.
- Come prepared: It may seem more obvious than not, but preparation is your key to success. This may mean buying a new phone plan, adapters, extra locks or a safe, or even a notebook and a few school supplies… whatever you choose, keep an extra eye out for things that may be harder to locate in a new environment.
Life as a Student…
- Be outgoing! It may be easier said than done, but if I learned one thing from my semester in Spain, it is that they are home to some of the kindest, most caring people on the planet. And even more, those people are willing to help, engage, and build relationships with you! You might find your greatest success when stepping outside of your comfort zone, so always make sure to be friendly to new faces and say hello.
- Plan ahead and schedule routes: In any new environment, the most overwhelming component comes from feeling, quite literally, lost. However, we are super lucky that through almost any form of technology, we can access Google maps or other resources to help us get from point A to point B. Especially during your first few days, make sure to plan ahead and look into your routes to class, back to your home, on the train or bus, etc., to avoid being late or feeling anxious.
- Take stock of your resources: Regarding program managers, professors, online teaching platforms, or software (like Canvas), take advantage of all forms of aid that you are provided. Many programs even offer weekend or weeknight activities, trips, or excursions – this is a great way to get to know the staff, your environment, your peers, and local residents.
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