A Study Abroad Not-to-Do List for You
Your semester abroad is a great learning experience and the guaranteed best times in your life so there is no reason why you should not make the best out of it. However, it is no surprise that once in a while, unintentionally, you may do one of those things in the “dont’s” list that will make you regret later. Here are our suggestions on what you should not do to make the best out of your precious semester abroad.
1. Know Nothing about the Host Country
“The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.” – Britney Spears
For all the good reason, once you are committed to studying abroad, you need to start doing serious study about the destination country before you come. It will not only help you to adapt easier when you are in the country, it also shows the locals that you are not just a tourist but a student with legit eagerness to learn about their country. Do research about where you will be living, the geography, the culture and the people. Know the surrounding countries, know their ways of life, and know what language they speak.
Studying about the host culture will help you a lot once you are abroad
2. Use Only English
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – Kames Michener
If you do not think you can appreciate different language or culture, you are not learning. You don’t have to be perfectly fluent, but try to say hello in their language and listen to those that have different beliefs. Practice every chance you get – even if they speak back to you in English. Language ties people together. Learn as many as you can.
3. Stay in your Comfort Zone
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable…but to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
Along the lines of understanding, also try to be a chameleon. At least taste the food (yes even brains!), buy funny looking shoes, see how it feels. No, it may not be “right” for you, but it will bring you farther out of your comfort zone and farther into theirs, and ultimately make your understanding of your host culture more robust.
Do something out of your comfort zone sometimes (you’re in a whole new country!)
4. Get frustrated over every difficulty
“A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it.” – John Steinbeck
No matter how many times you go over that impeccable timetable or made sure you set your alarm on AM not PM, your travel plans will go wrong. Accepting it is the first step. Bouncing back is the next. If you miss your flight, book another one and talk to someone next to you, the memory stuck in the airport may be more influential than the trip itself.
5. Get too attached to Technology
“In total, users check their smart phones an average of 150 times during a waking day of 16 hours, the research found.” – IBNLive
Disconnect. Do not get that overseas plan. Don’t rush out to find WiFi. Documenting these experiences to share is wonderful, but there is a time and place. See the world through your eyes, not a screen. Try to go eat something wonderful, do something amazing, or see something incredibly beautiful and just appreciate it without posting it.
6. Forget to Journal
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” – Oscar Wilde
Every traveler should have a journal. Not a blog, but a journal to write down, with a pen on paper, your experiences. Chronicling your own thoughts as you immerse yourself in another culture is the “real you.” This is your stripped-bare self, and will probably turn into your greatest souvenir from the trip.
7. Only Travel in Groups
“One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more.” – Thomas Jefferson
Yes, it is wonderful traveling with others, especially people you care about. But it is extremely important to at least step off to the side for a second and think and travel by yourself. Realize how amazing it is for you to be in the place you are. Take in the sounds, the scenery, and make sure you are not taking this travel experience for granted. Breathe in, breathe out, and be thankful that you are alive, and that you are traveling.
8. Let Fear Rule
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Don’t miss out on opportunities because of fear or homesickness. Do everything you can in the amount of time you are abroad. Conquer phobias, chance on making new relationships, and stick your neck out wherever possible. Don’t hold back.
Be fearless and enjoy the best of your study abroad trip
There you have it. From one former study abroad student to a future study abroad rockstar, consider these 8 common mistakes while studying abroad (and aim to eliminate these rotten habits!). Learn from this list, write it all down. Make sure you live your semester studying abroad with no regrets.
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