|We consulted our expert, a
three time veteran educational traveler and asked for her
top ten tips for students planning to study abroad. Here
1) Living abroad is harder than you think. Try to remain
flexible. You will be functioning in a different culture
with conventions and expectations that you are not familiar
with. It's up to you to get along. By accepting what happens
around you and to you with tolerance and a sense of humor,
you will be on your way to having a positive, possibly life
2) Your real family isn't perfect. Don't expect your host
family to be either. You hope they will accept you as you
are. Return the favor.
3) Take advantage of any and all opportunities to
interact with the natives. It's tempting to hole up in your
room, feeling overwhelmed. The more you meet and talk with
people, the more comfortable you will feel and the easier it
will be to get along. The hardest part of the getting
acclimated process is at the beginning.
4) Don't neglect the cultural attractions. Go to those
plays, concerts, museums, monuments, gardens, cathedrals
etc. You'll regret it later if you spent a summer, semester
or a year abroad and never made it to the ballet.
5) Some of your best memories of your Study Abroad
experience will be of trips you take on weekends and during
semester breaks. Look for student rates on air and rail
transport. Take advantage of the optional tours offered by
your program. Go off on your own or with a friend if the
6) Pack carefully using the guidelines your program
provides. Choose only clothing that you can mix and match
together. Weight limitations mean that you will be wearing
the same things over and over. Expect colder temperatures
than you are used to in schools and homes when the outside
temp falls and plan accordingly. Don't take your best
clothes and gear with you. Instead pack things that you
don't necessarily want to bring back.
7) Speak the language as much as possible with your hosts
and fellow students. They might be fluent English speakers,
but insist on using the local lingo. That's the best way to
polish your language skills. Watch local television. You
will be surprised at how much you'll pick up and retain.
8) You will probably want to make a large purchase like a
coat or a cell phone. Ask your hosts where to find the best
deals and how best to judge quality.
9) Markets are great places to shop. They are also good
places to learn about local cuisine, products, currency
values and your host country's way of life. Don't be shy
about bargaining for a product you like. In most areas of
the world this is expected.
10) School is going to be different than you are used to.
You might feel that the way you were brought up in is more
logical, more academically oriented or just plain better.
You might even be right but in the long run it is better to
do the work as it is presented. And do not make the mistake
of insisting that the American way is best.