As anyone who has ever studied abroad can attest to, time truly does fly when abroad. Whether your are studying abroad for 1 month or 1 year, by the time your experience is coming to an end, it will feel like you blinked and the semester was suddenly over. Between school, constant traveling, and attempting to find time to sleep, the semester can easily slip away! Here are some of my best tips to maximize your time abroad, and make the most of any study abroad experience.
Technology is a beautiful thing, but sometimes it can be too easy to stay glued to your laptop or smart phone. Challenge yourself to only use your devices when the day is done. Instead of using Wi-Fi in a cafe, strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Ignore Netflix while you are abroad and relax instead by listening to street music outside. Don’t always rely on google maps and enjoy the beauty of getting lost. Your memories will be more valuable than the time you spend on your phone.
2. Learn the language
If you are studying abroad in a non-english speaking country, learn as much of the local language as possible. I can promise you that you will regret it if you don’t. Not only will this make traveling easier (its a heck of a lot simpler to figure out busses and trains or order dinner when you know key phrases) but you will soak up even more of the culture and have a better understanding of the goings-on around you. It may be convenient to get by speaking English, but it’s a lot more rewarding to learn something new.
3. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
Worrying about little things like your lost sunglasses, your study abroad roommate drama, or planning the perfect itinerary for your next weekend trip is only going to stress you out and detract from your experience.
If you are studying abroad in Florence, Italy, I highly recommend checking out Home Sweet Home, their helpful (and English speaking staff) offer affordable services for students like apartment cleaning, laundry, luggage storage, van transfers and more. Perfect for people with messy roommates, busy schedules, and a serious lack of a dryer. (I’m right there with you.)
4. Use Your Time Abroad to Build Your Resume
Studying abroad isn’t just about exploring the world, posting cute Instagram pictures, or drinking wine in a local Piazza. Strategically use your months away from home to get an internship, part time job, volunteer, or network. For more tips on how use your study abroad experience to your advantage, check out my post 5 Simple Ways to Turn Your Study Abroad Experience Into A Resume Builder.
5. Befriend locals
Instead of spending time scouring the internet for travel tips or reading guide books, make friends with the locals! After all, they do know the best restaurants, things to see, and cool upcoming events. Not only will you have an excellent (and free) tour guide, but you’ll have someone awesome to share your adventures with and potentially even visit later on!
6. Don’t over-plan
Sometimes the best adventures and stories come from the moments which you didn’t schedule, or the times when your plans didn’t go…well…according to plan! Don’t be afraid to leave some time to relax, explore, and get lost because you are worried you will “miss something.” I can tell you right now, you will miss things, a lot of things, and thats okay. You can’t see the whole world in one semester.
7. Record your experiences
Sure, you might hate journaling, but you will be kicking yourself later when your best friend is traveling and you can’t remember the name of the to die for restaurant you dined at in Paris. Take photos, jot down what you did every day, maintain a blog, whatever method works for you, make sure you stick with it! Not sure which method is best for you? Find the perfect travel journal for you here!
8. Challenge yourself
Step outside of your comfort zone. Try something new. Eat that crazy food you’ve never heard of. You only have a few months so make the best of them. Seriously, the more you push yourself the more you will grow, I am convinced that I learned more during my study abroad experience than I did in 4 years of college.
9. Break away from the group
Traveling with your best friends can be fun, but I’ve also seen how traveling with a group 100% of the time can limit an experience abroad. Be independent! Go to that museum that no one else wants to, skip the bars and avoid a hangover before a big day traveling. Its totally okay to spend time alone, so don’t feel like you have to sacrifice the quality of your trip because of your friends’ travel preferences.
10. Walk or bike everywhere
Not only will this tip save you a lot of cash, but it will help you truly get to know each area you visit. By walking, riding your bike, or using the local bus system, you will experience so much more then in the back seat of a cab!
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Thank you to Alexa of Home Sweet Home for sharing some of her great ideas for this post with me!
Do you have any tips for maximizing your time abroad? Let me know in the comment section!
You might also like:
- 8 Things They DON’T Tell You About Studying Abroad
- Study Abroad on a Budget: Top 9 Ways to Save
- 5 Simple Ways to Turn Your Study Abroad Experience Into A Resume Builder