7 Tips for Studying Abroad

There are a ton of opportunities to study abroad, from the most popular European destinations to more exotic ones like countries in Africa, Asia, and you can even spend time in Iceland. Studying abroad is a great way to learn other languages and cultures from those who know them and speak them best, that natives of those countries you visit.

Getting there will be a big part of your experience, and you will probably need to do some fundraising. Finding the best prices on flights is not too difficult, as you can use sites like Expedia to find Iceland cheap flights or discount flights to London and other popular European destinations.

That being said, the one thing you can count on with a period of studying in another country is that things will be different than they are in your home country. From the culture to the language, you will need to be prepared to deal with all of it. Here are 7 tips to make your stay an excellent experience.

Plan an Adventure

The first step to your stay abroad is that you must say “yes” to the opportunity. Of course, you will have to keep up with the study portion of your studying abroad, but there will be many opportunities in your down time to explore local attractions and culture, and you will want to take advantage of those as well.

This means you need to plan almost like you are taking a vacation. Look up attractions and even lesser known museums and places to visit, ask the locals where you should go during your stay, and take in everything you can while you are there. Yes, your schooling is important, but so is immersing yourself in the culture and the area where you live.

Prep Your Electronics

Yes, you want to spend as much time as possible away from screens while you are abroad, but there are times when your smartphone can be your saving grace. Maps, currency converters, and translation apps can be a great help to you, especially if you venture out on your own.

You will need to know you have an international plan that won’t charge you extra every time you make a call or you will need to have a sim-free, unlocked phone that you can use with a local cell phone company by installing a sim card from them. This will mean you have a local, international number, but if you have an iPhone you can still message with friends and family via iMessage or Facetime.

You will also need to make sure you have the right adapters for your chargers. You will need an adapter for the country you are visiting, but there are kits available that have adapters for a variety of countries.

Pack Light

Part of immersing yourself is the local culture is that you will want to embrace local styles and customs, and locals will have a better way to deal with the local weather than you can anticipate. This allows you to bring home some great souvenirs that will be useful as well. Packing light means you are less likely to lose something along the way.

If need be, you can even ship items home to be waiting for you when you arrive back in your hometown. Either way, you will want as little bulk with you as possible, especially on your initial plane trip. If you can fit everything you really need in a carry on without checking any luggage that would be the best for you.

If you can’t, consider shipping items ahead via UPS or FedEx, so they are simply waiting when you arrive, and plan to ship the same items and then some home when your time abroad is over.

Embrace the Differences

We mentioned above that of course there will be differences between your home country and where you are going. The food will be unfamiliar, the weather may be unpredictable, and the routine and customs will be much different than those at home. The key is to maintain a positive outlook and embrace those differences for the things you can learn from them.

Understand that the weirdness and newness of it all are what make your host country special and unique, so enjoy those changes while you have the opportunity to experience them.

Record Your Adventures

So much will happen during your stay in your host country that there is no way you will remember it all. Keep a travel journal, write a blog, and above all keep your memories in a visual form. Take picture and video, even if just on your smartphone.

It may seem hard to take video when you are traveling like the wind, studying, and making all the adjustments you will need to in order to make yourself comfortable. However, try to take a few minutes every day to record your adventures and your thoughts and ideas, along with the good times and places you visit along the way.

Learn to Cope with Homesickness

Even the most seasoned of travelers will experience homesickness, and that is perfectly normal. How you deal with it will determine how well your trip goes. Focus on the present, and hang out with friends and teachers. Call family and talk if you need to touch base, but try to focus on where you are, and why you are abroad in the first place.

Your teachers and your host family will understand, and they can be a great source of support. Don’t let this resource go untapped, but don’t dwell in what you miss too much.

Develop a Routine

One of the ways to best fight homesickness and help yourself adapt to a new culture while studying is to develop a routine. This means adapting to local meal times, local bedtimes, and the way you do a number of things. However, the more routine it becomes, the sooner you will develop a habit, and the more likely you will come to enjoy what you are doing.

This can also help your contact with your family and those back home be more predictable. It gives you and them something to look forward to, and makes the time between seem more tolerable, making you less vulnerable to being homesick.

Studying abroad is a wonderful experience. Prepare yourself, and follow these seven tips to make your stay the most profitable and enjoyable it can be.

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