Original Author: Carrie K.
During college, I was lucky enough to be able to study abroad twice: once for a semester in London, and again for a winter term in Australia #blessed. If you get the chance to study abroad – take it! And in the midst of all the excitement of planning and preparing, take time to consider how you plan on getting the most out of this experience.
More Learning Happens Outside of the Classroom
To be completely candid, studying abroad is less about what you learn in class (sorry mom and dad) and more about experiencing a new culture and growing as a person. You will learn so much more from trying to figure out your host city’s public transportation system than you will from a textbook. I’m not saying you should skip class by any means, but maybe don’t pull an all-nighter studying for your theater exam.
You won’t always have a friend to explore with: they have class, or their parents are visiting, or they’re sick. Don’t let that deter you from going out into the city. When you’re somewhere full of culture and history on every street corner, hours pass in the blink of an eye. Plus you aren’t limited by someone else’s hunger or blistered feet and you’re free to go literally wherever you want. Just be aware of your surroundings and make sure you don’t end up in the seedy part of town.
Take Advantage of Your School’s Resources
Your institution will offer so many free or low cost activities, anything from walking tours to museum entrances to concerts. You may think it’s corny to go on school trips as an 18-21 year old, and you would be wrong. Seeing Wicked in London’s West End at a fraction of the price is probably one of the greatest deals of all time and you would have to be out of your mind to not take it because school-sanctioned events are “lame.”
Stay Sober at Least Some of the Time
I get it, being in a foreign country where the drinking age is lower and the clubs are open later, and the guys have sultry accents – it’s easy to go a little wild. In fact, it’s super damn fun. Just remember that you can get hammered every night in America if you really want to. What you can’t do back home is snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and do you really want to be hung over for that experience?
Be a Cliché Tourist
You don’t have to be obnoxious, but you do need to be cliché. Ride a bike in Amsterdam, have wine and cheese in Paris, eat the pizza in Italy. Seriously, eat all the pizza. At the very least, do it for the ‘gram. You won’t regret it.