I’ve explained why I believe it would be stupid for you to forego taking a gap year. Actually, I share your sentiments towards studying overseas. It’s pretty epic that you can stay in another country for five months, learn about what you’re already interested in, and then earn college credit. My own semester abroad in Chile will always be remembered as one of the most idyllic times of my life. It was instrumental in carving out the postgraduate life that would come—I’m not sure I’d be a travel writer writing this article if hadn’t studied abroad.
“The most intensive form of learning is travelling and the world is too big to live to live in the dark.”
There are methods to make the most of your study abroad experience, even while there is no right or wrong way to do it.
- Take Less of a Typical Course Load
I always packed as many courses as possible into my college schedule while double majoring. I even petitioned my university’s dean one semester to let me take more credits than was permitted. But I made a 180-degree turn when I went overseas to study. I chose the bare minimum. I just had two days of class and had a simple timetable. This, in retrospect, helped me make the most of my trip. Even the necessary 12 credits needed a lot more time than I was used to because my lessons were in the second language I was learning.
Therefore, think about enrolling in a course load that will give you time to experience the new culture and nation you have just moved to. Allow time for weekend excursions, museum visits, and all the other enjoyable activities that your temporary residence has to offer.
- Make new acquaintances.
Students may easily connect and establish friends with other international students thanks to the majority of study abroad programs. I wound myself with a group of six great Americans during my semester abroad. We are still in touch ten years later.
However, don’t let the simplicity of establishing friends with other study-abroad students stop you from meeting residents who aren’t enrolled at your university. During your stay abroad, you could experience some of the finest cross-cultural learning from unexpected sources. Be willing to stretch yourself and create some new pals. Don’t be shy about striking up a discussion with locals, whether it’s the man selling mangoes on the corner, the elderly woman walking her dog in the park, the barista at the coffee shop, or the bookshop employee.
- Make acquaintances with non-English speakers
It’s likely that you will have to acquire a new language during your stay abroad unless you are studying in a country like England or Australia. Speaking the language is also the greatest method to learn it. Speaking it with native speakers who don’t speak English is the greatest approach to learning the language. In this way, you are forced to use your brain in overdrive and are unable to use your native tongue as a crutch.
Conversations, becoming friends with native speakers and letting go of grammatical perfection are the only ways to truly master a language.
Yes, you will occasionally sound silly, so don’t be too hard on yourself, laugh at your foolishness, and don’t worry about the errors you make. Being embarrassed when speaking a language is a key barrier to language acquisition. When you make numerous mistakes that are unavoidable, try to laugh about them. No worries; you’re learning.
- Begin each day with a fresh perspective
We learn via travel that other people’s perspectives don’t always match our own. Make it a point to have an open mind about everything you encounter when traveling.
- Maintain a Budget
Early on in your vacation, it is possible to easily go over budget. Paying for a meal out, a night out, a cab journey, and other incidentals adds up. Don’t spend carelessly since doing so might put you in a poor financial position later on in your life. Decide early on how much goods will cost, how much money you have, and how to best use it. This can include delaying the purchase of items like handicrafts and souvenirs until the conclusion of your vacation.
- Keep in Mind Why You’re Studying Abroad
It’s simple to lose sight of your fundamental motivation for studying abroad amid the flurry of new acquaintances, weekend excursions, and novel experiences. Start by working hard to learn what you came to study. Attend class and finish your homework. If you get high marks, you may make use of the trip’s various amenities without having to constantly worry that you’re ignoring the most essential things.
- Discover How to Navigate
Nobody detests looking at a bus or metro schedule more than I do. I suppose that’s why I frequently feel disoriented.
If you find out the public transit choices and take some time to acquire a grasp on them, your navigating will go a lot more smoothly. The other option is to live as I do, always asking for directions and being lost.
- Mail postcards and letters home
When you are studying abroad, there has never been a more ideal time to resurrect the forgotten art of letter and postcard writing. Send your loved ones snail mail to save the postal service! They’ll be overjoyed to get it.
- Maintain a Journal
You can expect your semester abroad to be a wonderful and life-changing experience. A fantastic approach to processing the novel events and circumstances that are occurring around you is to keep a journal. Having a record of those encounters will make you happy. There is no better time to start journaling than your semester abroad, even if you have never done it before. You may even try completing it in the language you are studying for additional credit.
- Stay on Longer After the Semester
Give yourself enough time to stay in the nation when the semester is over—perhaps a few weeks or perhaps a month. You’ll probably have some new acquaintances, destinations, and language skills. Why not indulge in that fresh cultural knowledge without the constraints of classes? Give yourself enough time to stay in the nation when your vacation is over. Make sure you also renew your travel insurance.