Studying abroad was one of the best decisions I made in my life. My year abroad prepared me for so many real-life situations before I even started college. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without my experience abroad. Here are a few things that my time overseas taught me:
- There is more than one way to communicate
Studying abroad can get frustrating fast, especially when you don’t speak the country’s native language. It’s important to keep in mind that even though you are in the process of learning another language, there are other ways to communicate like facial expressions and hand motions. Believe it or not, these methods actually do help, trust me.
2. Bring your comfiest sneakers
This is something I learned super fast when living in France. For the most part, Europeans walk EVERYWHERE. On average, I walked anywhere from 5-15 miles per day. I was expected to walk to and from school, a 20-30 minute walk each way, and to get downtown was another 30-minute walk. Investing in a comfy pair of sneakers is a must if you’re going to study abroad.
3. Get ready to break out of your comfort zone
There will be many times you have to get out of your comfort zone in order to get what you want out of the experience. I was very timid before I left to go live in France for a year, but by the time I got back to the USA, I had no problem speaking to others, especially in front of large groups. My experience abroad left me feeling much more confident in myself.
4. Go with the flow
Before you set expectations, keep your mind open. Many times things will not go as planned, so it’s important to go with the flow. This was difficult for me because I had a lot of control over what I did in the US, however, when studying abroad, your host family might have different rules or ideas of living than you. Doing things their way is simply part of the study abroad experience.
5. Don’t be afraid of new experiences
In addition to going with the flow, it’s also important to try every new experience possible. Whether it’s trying new foods, meeting new people, or visiting a new city- you’ll be glad you went for it.
It’s important to keep in mind that the study abroad experience can vary from person to person, so be flexible and try as many new things as possible because your time abroad will be one you will never forget!