If you have never traveled outside of your native country before, you will need plenty of study abroad tips to prepare you for the wonderful life-changing journey you are about to embark on. You can do countless hours of research and read through plenty of lists of study abroad tips, but you will never be fully ready when your embarking date comes. One thing I would say before studying abroad is to learn to say “Yes” – whether this is for a trip to a new city, trying a new food or any other exciting experience that comes your way! Saying “YES” to new things will make your study abroad experience unforgettable!
For example, how will you know in advance about how a different culture interprets the way you speak, what your professors will be like, who your friends will be, where you will hang out at, and so on? Do not worry, you are not alone. This study abroad guide was prepared to help anybody who is still not quite confident that things will go well studying abroad. I have a lot of study abroad experience and have helped hundreds of students prepare for their trips abroad as a Study Abroad Student Manager as well as a student when I studied in Italy and South Korea!
Study Abroad Tips
I started my traveling life as a student in Korea, and have since turned this adventure into a full-time lifestyle. As a result, I have plenty of studying abroad tips for anybody who is on a similar life path. We all start this lifestyle somewhere, and every travel blogger has all received study abroad tips before.
1. Pack Lightly
You simply cannot bring all of your possessions with you while studying abroad. Unless you are already a minimalist with possessions that fit within a backpack or two, you will have endless amounts of trouble hauling around several suitcases and backpacks. For best results, keep your study abroad packing list at one backpack. In my study abroad packing list, you can see how this is possible.
Fellas: leave your 30 pairs of Jordans at home. The same goes for your Xbox and PlayStation games, or whatever it is that you have a lot of. Ladies: the same idea holds true. Do not bring several bags full of clothing or your favorite childhood stuffed animals. This is probably one of the most important studying abroad tips you will receive.
2. Be Prepared to Work Hard
If you are venturing to a place like South Korea, you might be surprised when you realize how much more strenuous overseas Universities are. For example, you might have to take on more coursework, have longer classes, more homework, or longer hours of studying in general.
Anybody who takes their studies seriously understands that this is what comes first. You will have plenty of time for fun, but what is most important is that you are ready to work hard. Any study abroad guide that is real and transparent echoes the same thing.
3. Study in New Places Every Time.
Remember: your education always comes first. You will likely be doing plenty of studying while you are overseas, but you need to remember that you will only be there for a limited time. As a result, don’t stay in the same apartment or dorm room (whatever your situation is) every time you need to study. Not only is this the mark of a boring person, but the mark of a boring lifestyle.
More than likely, all you will need to study is wi-fi and a little bit of quiet. Some of you might use headphones when you are studying, which unlocks your mobility to study nearly wherever you please. If you are a textbook person, go to a new park, or try studying at a popular local site. Nobody will mind if you are reading a textbook.
If you need wi-fi, go to a different coffee shop or public wi-fi place. Even if it means that sometimes you need to go to the same place. The idea here is that since you will be in your study abroad location your whole life you should take advantage of your new lifestyle.
4. Don’t Keep to Yourself
It’s normal to be introverted if it’s your personality type, but keeping to yourself can have devastating consequences in the grand scheme. Part of the enjoyment of studying abroad is to make new friends. As you develop friends you might be surprised by the differences between your culture and theirs.
USA citizens tend to understand each other well and figure each other out quickly. However, people in foreign countries WILL NOT understand you right from the start. It might take a little longer to develop a relationships with international friends, but it’s 100% worth the effort. The same holds true for them. You will at first know nothing about how they think, their lifestyle, and how their upbringing shaped who they are. After spending time inside and outside the classrooms together, you will definitely create some life-long friendships.
5. Go Out and See Nearby Sites
Each country has their own vibe and special things to do and see. In any case, there will always be times that will have to yourself. Whenever you are bored and have nothing to do get on Google and figure out what popular sites are nearby. If you are studying abroad in Korea, there are plenty of places for you to visit for quick sightseeing.
However, you might be lucky enough to be close to places like Machu Picchu, for example, which is one of the most beautiful ancient wonders of the world. Even to this day. The point I am trying to make here is that wherever you go, make sure to experience the sights that make that country unique.
6. Socialize with Friends & Locals
It is Friday night. You have two options: sit at home and watch movies or go out with your study abroad classmates. Although both of these options will be appealing at one point or another, you do not want to spend each of your nights sitting at home staring at a television screen. Some of the friends I made while studying abroad have become life long friends and they are from all over the world!
No matter where you go, there will be plenty of fun nightlife options for you to embark on. Do not waste your free time by staying inside and watching movies. Go out, party, explore, mingle and have a good time.
7. Learn About the Local Culture
This is one of the most important study abroad tips you will receive. Unless you know everything about every culture (which you do not) you need to learn about the new culture you are now a part of. Every culture has a story to tell and an interesting perspective. It is important to keep an open mind since you never know what you will learn.
8. Eat the Local Cuisine
Do you know what Kimchi is? Have you ever tried a dish of Al Harees? Unless you are savvy with foreign food or have a knack for other cultures’ cuisines, you probably don’t know one (or both) of these dishes. Everybody knows what a hamburger and French fries taste like. However, trying other foods and cuisines of foreign cultures is important.
One of the most surprisingly good dishes I have tried is Ceviche, which is next to impossible to find in the USA. Similar to sushi, they mix raw fish with vegetables and sauce to perfection to create a dish which is simply irresistible.
9. Learn the Language
Okay: you probably won’t become fluent in Korean within a period of 5 months. However, you might be surprised how much it will help your daily life if you can speak a little bit of the native tongue. Knowing the basics like “hello,” “thank you,” “goodbye,” “I want to buy…,” “I like…,” “how do you say…,” and so on will make your life so much easier.
In particular, knowing how to say “how do you say” and then pointing to an object will be enormously helpful in learning nouns. Verbs, well, they are a different story. Remember: the idea isn’t to become fluent, but to be able to have small talk with a local. This is the best way to learn from the people.
10. Consider Making Travel a Lifestyle
More than likely, you will have an amazing experience studying abroad. Many people who travel around the world full time started their journey as an abroad student before realizing that the world is a wonderful place.
If you are like me, you will instantly become hooked on travel after your first time going to a foreign country for an extended period of time. That is why one thing you should do while you are studying abroad is to consider whether or not you want to make a lifestyle out of travel. You will likely be able to find work in your field wherever you go.
Although this study abroad guide comes with plenty of study abroad tips for you to consider, you should always keep an open-mind. Some of these ideas may not work well for you personally, which is why you should take any sort of study abroad advice as simply that: advice. There is no set of studying abroad tips that will work for everybody.