5 Ways To Include Travel Time While Studying Abroad

By Tamiera Vandegrift on December 27, 2016
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Studying abroad can be one of the greatest adventures you’ll have during your college career and perhaps your life. The experience of meeting new people, exploring foreign lands, and immersing yourself in a unique culture is both a beautiful and enriching experience.

According to NAFSA, only 1.5 percent of all American students enrolled at an institution of higher education have had the opportunity to study abroad in 2015, making the chance to study abroad an absolute chance of a lifetime that not every student will get to experience.

It’s easy to miss the experience when the “study” in study abroad takes control of the entire trip. While studying and working hard in your academics is important, living in the moment and savoring every second of studying abroad is something you may not get to experience again.

It’s important to have a steady balance in between studying abroad and enjoying your experience abroad. Read on to find out how you can achieve the best of both worlds while you’re on another side of the world.

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Make a plan.

Before you leave, do your homework. Research everything there is to see and do in your destination. Make your destination more than just a tourist attraction. Look beyond the obvious and find your own path to adventure while you’re studying abroad.

After you’ve highlighted what interests you, it’s time to build your own overseas experience. Make a list and plan out all of the things you hope to see and do while you’re studying abroad. Rate them in terms of priority so that you won’t forget to see what interests you the most. Plan to try new restaurants and new foods. Make an effort to meet new people and experience their culture. Try to explore more than what’s advertised on the Travel Channel.

Of course, you might not be able to do everything on your list depending on the amount of time that you’re spending studying abroad, but that’s okay! The point of studying abroad is to come back home as a more enriched and confident person. What better way to do so than planning out your own path and experience outside of the itinerary?

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Break out of your comfort zone.

It’s easy to get into a monotonous routine once you get used to your everyday process. You wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth, go to class, go to the library, etc. While you’re studying abroad, it’s time to break your old habits and make new experiences for yourself. Now I don’t mean you should abandon your hygiene, though. Rather, get out of your daily routine and make the most out of your time studying abroad.

Get out of your dorm and do your homework in a small café. Ditch the same old library and find a new place to study. Make friends out of your classmates and invite them to join your adventures along with you. Step outside of your everyday routine and introduce yourself to something greater: spontaneity.

Try things that you wouldn’t normally try at home and I promise you’ll have an even greater experience than you bargained for. In fact, you might just be able to bring that adventurous spirit home with you after your trip is over.

Image via: www.favim.com

Use your weekends wisely.

So now that you’re free from classes it’s time to catch up on Netflix bingeing and Facebook stalking, right? Wrong. In fact, it might be a good idea to leave your cell phone on airplane mode and remove yourself from digital communication entirely. At least for a few hours.

Spend your weekends exploring and doing everything you have on your lists. Visit monuments, museums and gift shops. Simply wander the streets and bask in the scent of a foreign land. Take public transit and admire the local sights. Use your weekends for all the right things.

Image via: gldeducation.org

Immerse yourself in the culture.

Since you can officially consider yourself a temporary local for a semester or two once you start studying abroad, it’s time to completely immerse yourself in the culture. Spend time learning the local language. Introduce yourself to the locals and converse with them. You’ll make new acquaintances that could possibly last a lifetime.

After my freshman year of high school, I had the opportunity to travel Europe. One of my destinations was the Isle of Wight. I had the opportunity to sail with my fellow students as well as students from Britain — most of which I’m still in contact with to this day!

Immersing yourself in the culture and lifestyle will allow you to have a plethora of memories to look back on once you find your way back home. As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

Be wise.

In the best interest of your safety while studying abroad, I feel the need to include a disclaimer. Please do not go anywhere without telling anyone where you’re going. Please use your best judgement when talking to strangers. Please always keep a cell phone on you in case of emergencies. Studying abroad is a beautiful experience, but it can turn dangerous. Unless Liam Neeson is your father, please stay safe and enjoy your study abroad experience to its fullest.

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Tamiera is a junior at Florida State University, studying Editing, Writing & Media and Digital Media Production. When she's not geeking out about movies and puppy videos, she's on her way to a career in screenwriting, while working intensely to finish two novels before graduation. Besides writing, Tamiera is otherwise obsessed with Coldplay, feminism, dystopian novels, and candy corn. She hopes to visit every country on the planet at least once and eventually finish an entire tube of Chapstick.

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