Studying abroad, the time in many college student’s lives when they pack their bags, say goodbye to their friends and family and begin the most amazing journey they will remember and cherish for the rest of their lives.
Studying Abroad is almost like re-entering freshman year of college. You are sent to this big, scary place, not knowing a soul. You have to make new friends, and acclimate yourself with your new surroundings. And that, is all apart of the fun. Here are a few of my tips and tricks on how to have the time of your life studying abroad.
1. Be Friendly
When you first arrive, there will very few people you will already know, or like me, not know a soul. This is the time to put all of the shyness you may have away, and introduce yourself to absolutely EVERYONE. And by everyone, I mean people who you are going to see frequently for the next 5 months. Now don’t go introducing yourself to strangers on the street, but more to people that are in your study abroad class, that you can eventually be friends with. The more people you meet, the more opportunities will come available to you during this time. So smile, and say hello!
2. Document Your Experience
Whether you are a photo junkie like me and bring three different cameras with you wherever you go, or if you like to write, start a blog or journal. By documenting your experience, you will be able to remember this experience forever, and little memories you may have otherwise forgotten.
3. Blend with the Locals
This one is so important. By purchasing a few clothing pieces that are similar to your country's fashion, and ordering food in restaurants in their native tongue, you are putting yourself in their position. Currently, I am studying abroad in Milan, Italy. I am completely of Italian decent, so blending in was somewhat thrown on me, because I physically look like I am from the country I am studying in, I’ve had people ask me in Italian for directions, some I could give, others I could not. But by blending into the culture, and living like a local, you are taking in the countries culture therefore enriching your entire study abroad experience.
You Only Live Once has been such a common phrase for me since I’ve been here. There will never be another time in your life when you will have this beautiful gift of travel and knowledge. This is your chance. Create a bucket list of everything you want to do before you leave and stick to it. This is your only chance! Travel everywhere you’ve always dreamed of, and eat all the carbs you want, you only live once, and your time is now!
5. Take it All In
Sometimes I find myself getting caught up in the moment. I “have” to get a better picture to post online. Or, I’ll walk down the street not admiring the beauty around me. I sometimes find myself in this little bubble, and sometimes, I let that bubble pop. I let myself live for the present moment. I’ll take a deep breath and realize that five months in a place that makes you so happy really flies by. Take advantage of everything your city, country and continent has to offer, and really appreciate it. Life is way too short to be living it though your phone’s camera.
Step back, look up, and appreciate the beauty around you, because this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.