Wednesday, April 13, 2016

5 Things to Know Before Studying Abroad

          There are endless checklists, to-do lists, and other methods of preparation for a study abroad experience but during my time in Pamplona, Spain these 5 things stuck out to me as ideas that I should have known before the start of my journey.

  1. Trips with your new friends are fun, but trips by yourself are rewarding.

·         Doing things alone in general is okay. When you get on a bus or a plane or a train by yourself, a new experience comes to life. Making friends is easier, in these settings and you just might end up in the presence of some really cool people. Cities are great with friends, but there is something special about wandering down the streets of a new city on your own agenda. You get to decide what you want to see, when you want to see it and how long you want to spend doing any given thing. With this freedom, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the things that you love and care about the most.  

  1. Systems and processes vary country to country and culture to culture.

·         The small everyday parts of our lives may be completely different in our host country. This is a part of the experience, but it might be smart to look into some of these things before you arrive and to also accept that if a difference comes up, adapting to your situation is fundamental and will help you to succeed. Some examples of differences in processes that I experienced are listed below:

o   Course selection (not online, given a month to “try on” classes

o   Postal service (number vs. line, different lines, MANY forms and papers to fill out)

o   Produce in grocery stores (weigh yourself and get a sticker that goes on the bag)

  1. Asking for help is okay.

·         I think this one speaks for itself, but it is a vital part of living, working, and studying in a new place. You won’t have all of the answers, but someone else will. Most of the time people will be very willing to help you!

  1. Journal/Blog/Keep a Record/ Capture Memories

·         This is the one thing you should do every day   

·         This will be one of the best experiences of your life. Write about it and not just what is happening, but how you are feeling, this will help you process what is happening and to remember it later

  1. You have to push yourself in the host language because there will be plenty of people ready and willing to speak to you in English.

·         English is a common language among many peoples, university students in particular might be very keen to speak to you in English to practice, this means that you have to be intentional about speaking in your host language.

By Study Abroad Ambassador: Brittany Miller