This blog post was updated on August 23, 2018.
Around this time of year, many students are finalizing their plans to spend the summer and fall semesters abroad. While the sorting of class schedules and flights is important, you should also take some time to figure out your study abroad goals. Having studied abroad for over a year, I know just how quickly that time can fly by as a student in a foreign country. You need to have a clear plan of action of what you want to get out of your studies abroad. Here are a few goals to consider making before you take off with your backpack and books.
Learn the language: Even if you are just studying abroad to have the experience of studying in foreign lands, you should still make one of your goals to try learning some of the language. On my study abroad semester in Sicily, most of the students wanted to pick up words and phrases. On my semester in Florence, the majority never gave it a try. You can’t get to know a place if you don’t at least try speaking its language. Even if language classes aren’t required at your school, sign up for them to practice. If there are ever language exchanges or meetings organized by your university, make it a point to attend them.
Read up on the study abroad destination: Before I studied in Sorrento, Sicily and Florence, I made the mistake of just arriving and letting the destinations introduce themselves to me. While I knew what Italy would be like, I didn’t know much about these places before I left. You should make it one of your study abroad goals to at least read a bit about your study abroad base. Purchase a guidebook for your destination. You should have a sense of where you are going and what you want to see at your study abroad base before you touch down.
Turn in the necessary paperwork and assignments early: A study abroad semester will go by quicker than you can imagine. The time leading up to a semester abroad can also fly by quickly. You should make it a goal to get in all of your paperwork, visa requirements and the like well before they are due. Once you arrive, you should also try to stay on top of assignments. Most of the lessons learned while abroad are not confined to the classroom, but the world outside. However, you miss out on enjoying your chosen country and area if you don’t stay on top of work. You should make a promise to yourself to never spend weekends catching up on homework, but rather exploring your destination. You can do this easily by staying on top of assignments.
Make a bucket list item a priority: Ever since I studied abroad, I always said that I would make it to Greece. Unfortunately, I never did. Even if funds are tight, you should make a goal to at least achieve a bucket list item of yours. If a friend invites you to head to Rome on the weekend for $100, don’t be cheap. You will regret saying no to travel opportunities on a study abroad. As an overall goal, try to say yes to travel experiences, especially those you have dreamt about. You have come all this way after all.
What are some of your goals for studying abroad?
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