Three Tips to Maximize Your Study Abroad Experience

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Nicole Fatovic
A group of nine college students standing arm-in-arm on the front steps of an academic building.

One of my must-dos in college was to study abroad. I was fortunate enough to make that happen this past summer, and it was everything that I had imagined. While I was able to explore London and Paris with my newly gained friends, it was easy to get caught up in the “abroad” part of the experience and forget what I was actually there for, which was the “study” part of the study abroad program.

I went to London and Paris through a school-sponsored program for my major. I was able to take six credit hours of classes taught by professors from my school. Instead of using a traditional classroom setting, we went on daily excursions to various places in each city. Additionally, most of my assignments and projects were due at the end of the program.

You’re probably thinking that I did not touch most of my schoolwork until the end of the program, and you would be correct. With the setup of my program and my eagerness to explore, it was effortless for me to put off my work and find tons of other things to do. While this was nice in the beginning, I started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I still had not touched and all of the things I still had not done in the city as the program progressed.

Here are three ways you can maximize your time abroad while ensuring you gain the full educational experience you signed up for.

Daily Down Times

My first piece of advice is to utilize mornings and evenings for schoolwork so that your day is open for exploration and class time. While it is nice to have these times to reset and relax when needed, I think these are great times to get your schoolwork done without having to compromise other plans throughout the day.

Healthy Habits

Another thing that students often take for granted, whether abroad or not, is getting a good night’s sleep. Allowing your body to rest is especially important when you are in a new setting and are trying to squeeze in a vacation on top of academics. Be mindful of your fluctuating energy levels, too. Stay hydrated and try to stick to healthy food choices as much as possible; don’t splurge too much on the local delicacies.

Plan Ahead

Finally, in order to make the most of your time, it is important to plan ahead and make lists. Before going abroad, I utilized the bookmarks tab in Google Maps. It was a great tool for searching the places I wanted to go, visually marking them onto a map, sharing them with friends, and executing the perfect plan each day.

If you plan to study abroad, I can almost guarantee that within the blink of an eye, you will already be approaching the end of your experience and yearning for more time. Studying abroad was the best decision I have made in college so far, and I would highly recommend it!

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