Study Aboard Series Part 3: Adjusting to Life Abroad

09 September 2013

The following post is part of a three part series concerning study abroad. Hopefully I will be able to assist anyone who is thinking about studying abroad and explain just how the whole thing works. Because I am an American who studied abroad in Europe, most of my advice will be anecdotal and center around these facts. If you are from another country or studied abroad somewhere else besides Europe, I'd love for you to contribute your own thoughts and tips in the comment section!

The cloisters of Mont St Michel
Alright, so you've decided to make the leap and study abroad! Excellent! Oh, wait, things aren't turning out quite like you expected? You're not having the amazing whirlwind adventure you imagined?

Well here's the honest truth, just going abroad isn't going to write an adventure for you! You need to get out there and make it happen! Here are my tips for adjusting to life abroad and making the most of your study abroad experience:

  • Find people that can commiserate with you. Other foreign exchange students can be a great resource since they are going through the exact same thing as you. They'll understand when you make language errors and won't judge. 
  • Look for a hobby. This will help distract you from depression and also help you meet people of similar interests. Check out information boards or ask the study abroad office for how you can join extracurriculars.
  • Create a routine. Once you get settled, come up with a pattern to add some stability to your life for your first few weeks abroad. Knowing what your doing each day and being self-assured will help you gradually become more comfortable with your new life.
  • Break your routine. Once you become acclimated, don't be afraid to go do something different. Be proactive in creating a social life and engaging with others.
  • Discover some quirks. Go out and find what you love about your new country, city, or even neighborhood. Find something new that you would never come across back home.
  • Write about it. Keeping a journal is a great way to document your travels and reflect on your time abroad. You can create a blog for sharing or a personal diary for yourself.
  • Be bold. As I mentioned in 7 Things I Regret About Studying Abroad, not practicing the language enough was my number one regret. Don't shy away from social situations. Look at every interaction as a chance to improve your language skills.
  • Be productive. This is your chance to really make your resume shine. Take on a project or a side job to impress future employers.
  • Be open. Accept the fact that this is your new life and don't give up. Persevere. You'll find your amazing adventure!

Have you studied abroad before? What are your tips?

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