Making the Most of Your Study Abroad Experience

updated on 08 October 2021
<i>Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels</i>
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Studying abroad is a one-of-a-kind adventure. It's enriching in more ways than one. However, some international students don't really succeed in making the most of their study abroad experience. 

Once they begin packing their bags and planning their life once they reach the exciting new country, they are full of enthusiasm. They feel ready to tackle whatever comes their way. But, they fail to remember that studying abroad encompasses more than just the classroom. So, while they will accomplish some of their goals, they will realize it was pretty underwhelming when they look back at the time spent. When they compare their initial expectations and the experiences they got, they see that they hardly match. 

Things that can prevent you from having the time of your life

There are many reasons for the scenario mentioned above. And here are some of them:

  • Focusing solely on the academic aspect and learning the new language. While it is necessary to concentrate on your studies, and it's highly beneficial to take advantage of the immersion that studying abroad allows to learn a new language, that is not all there is to it. There is life outside the campus. 
  • Thinking that you cannot afford fun activities. Firstly, the fun does not have to be expensive. There are many ways to enjoy yourself without spending a dime. Moreover, while you may not be allowed to get a real job as an international student, there are options you should explore. Thus, consult with your advisor and research all the options for employment on campus. Also, use an app to manage your budget. Create a plan, consider your expenses, and try to stick to it. With careful planning, you can travel on a budget, have fun that costs peanuts, and try new things without breaking the bank.
  • Partying too much. There is the opposite approach to the one from the previous point. Some students have so much fun and parties that they neglect everything else. While the social aspect is important, you should remember that the point of studying abroad is studying. 
  • Feeling that studying abroad was not the right decision for you. Many students have trouble leaving their homes for a while and have difficulty settling in the new environment. However, with some preparation, this can be mitigated. Still, if you do nothing and feel miserable the entire time, your experience will be ruined. 

If you want an incredible study abroad experience, focus on variety

Studying abroad is not only about learning. <i>(Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels)</i>
Studying abroad is not only about learning. (Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels)

Going to a foreign country is a fantastic opportunity. So, make the most of it by exploring new things. Try not to limit yourself. So, whenever an opportunity presents itself, taste some new food, visit a new place, try a new activity, meet new people, help others. For example, after you spend some time in the US, you will notice that people frequently move for many different reasons. Perhaps your classmate will want to relocate to new accommodation. Take advantage of the fact that Americans move quite a lot. Offer some help, get to know that person better, see how they do things. Opportunities for new adventures are all around you; you just have to notice them. 

If you constantly limit yourself, you will not only fail to make the most of your study abroad experience, but such an attitude could be a predictor for other aspects of your life. For example, it could impede your academic and professional progress. Ultimately, it could hinder your personal growth and development. 

Remember, we always lack time, we never have enough money, and we all have problems. Don't let that prevent you from experiencing your time abroad to the fullest. It is possible to make the most of this time if you try. And we have some advice on how. 

How to make the most of your study abroad experience

There are so many ways to enjoy your time as an international student. What is more, you will be surprised how something so simple can completely transform your experience. 

Get out of your comfort zone

First and foremost, if you have come to the US with a group, break away from it. Yes, it may be challenging, but if you stay together, you will miss out on the chance to do, see, and try something new, meet new people, and make connections for life. Not to mention that it will likely hamper your language learning progress. 

Studying abroad is a perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and get to know the world.<i> (Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels)</i>
Studying abroad is a perfect opportunity to expand your horizons and get to know the world. (Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels)

Also, spending time away from people from your culture will widen your horizons. You will learn more about the local culture and way of life. Only that way will you have a real international experience. 

Expand your social circle

You will go to classes and be with a particular group. You will also have other group activities with other international students. That is a great way to meet someone new. But don't limit yourself to them only. Try to make connections with the locals. That way, you may make a new friend for life, which is invaluable. You will understand the new culture even better. And meeting the locals opens so many other doors. Soon, you will be invited to various local events. 

Organize trips

Whenever you can, travel. Travel with a group or alone, whatever you prefer. Begin with exploring the area and seeing the sights. And talk to people you come across along the way. 

Expect the culture shock and deal with it

Adapting to a new environment will take some getting used to, and it will be an emotional journey. Once you become an international student, you cease to be a tourist. Studying abroad means having a deeper relationship with the new country and culture. Hence the culture shock.

However, embrace the fact that it is perfectly normal. Everyone goes through it. And how fast you will adjust will depend on how different your culture is, your character, and other factors. 

Learning about the local culture, improving your language skills, and meeting people will help you handle the culture shock. <i>(Photo by Buro Millennial from Pexels)</i>
Learning about the local culture, improving your language skills, and meeting people will help you handle the culture shock. (Photo by Buro Millennial from Pexels)

Still, you can mitigate the difficulties by immersing yourself in the new culture, learning about it, meeting new people, and learning the language. Also, go out, fill your day with fun activities, get to know the area, and try to behave like a local. 

Keep a journal

While you are abroad, you can expect to have some good and some bad days. Of course, never let the latter ones overshadow the good. So, keep a journal and write about your feelings and experiences, both good and bad. It is highly beneficial as it will allow you to vent when going gets rough, and it will be a fantastic reminder of all the great moments you have had. And if journaling is too outdated for you, perhaps you would prefer blogging. 

Final words

You can make the most of your study abroad experience if you give yourself the tools to succeed. If you go out, meet the people and the new culture, try new things, and explore, you will undoubtedly gain the confidence you will benefit from your entire life. Consider these tips when you begin planning your studies abroad. Also, read about the place you are going to before you actually arrive. You will know what to expect, and you will feel somewhat familiar with it. Living in this day and age has one tremendous advantage - the wonder of the internet. Use it!

For more updates, feel free to check out MiTravel. We are a small team reinventing how group travel planning can be done. Check this link to find out more, and sign up to join our waitlist. We will be launching the MiTravel Planning Board this fall, so stay tuned. 

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