Spending a semester abroad to study is an incredible opportunity that can change your life. It’s important to be aware of certain mistakes people make so that you can avoid them and make sure that your time abroad is as rewarding and exciting as it can be.
1. Not researching your host country
If you’re interested in studying abroad, it’s critical to research your host country before traveling to avoid coming across as ignorant or worse, insulting. Look into the place you’ll be living, its customs, people, and the language they speak. A little bit goes a long way to making a good impression. Geography and weather are also important to know so you can make sure you’ve packed the appropriate attire for the altitude and temperature, and even more crucially, the customs and laws of the country.
2. Being unable to disconnect from life back home
A sad mistake that many make is not committing fully to the experience, instead spending their free time online, catching up with people from home. Failing to make personal connections abroad and exploring the country, food, and culture will be a big regret later in life. Although it’s normal to miss your life back home and you want to be glued to your technology, don’t block yourself off from daily adventures or you’ve made yourself a big disservice.
3. Not bringing the right things
You don’t need to pack a lot, as many things that you might forget or need will be available for purchase locally. As recommended by Christopher Roberts, an educator at State of writing and Academized “cut that pile of books down to a couple, limit your toiletries and shoe collection, and as previously mentioned, have a look at culturally appropriate clothing so you’re not wearing spaghetti straps and short shorts in a conservative country.”
4. Forgetting to double check your departure information
Remember to verify the dates on your reservations before you book, and travel. You wouldn’t want to miss the start of your semester because you misread the date as m/d/y instead of d/m/y. Also, make sure you’ve checked and double checked your passport expiry date and visa date. It’s happened too many times that a student arrived at the airport ready to travel to their semester abroad and discovered their passport was expired and missed their flight!
5. Going into the semester with baggage
Perhaps the best thing about going abroad is that you can meet other people on a totally blank slate. No one knows about your life back home, the mistakes you’ve made in the past, or your hopes and dreams for this experience. Their entire perception of you will be based on what information and attitude you give them. Nicholas Graham, a student blogger at Eliteassignmenthelp and Big assignments, advises that “this is the moment to be truly yourself and meet other like-minded people. Don’t blow it by faking a personality you think you need to project, or bringing negative baggage and preconceptions from home.”
6. Forgetting to document your experiences
Everyone traveling abroad should keep a journal, which is personal, to write down your experiences. Unlike a blog, a journal allows you to be absolutely genuine about your experiences, sharing your thoughts and feelings about your adventure as it progresses. You will definitely not regret it and come out of the trip with the best souvenir you could ask for.
7. Only staying within one group of people
Traveling with others is a great experience, especially similar people, as you have someone to share the memories and moments. However, you can’t discount the importance of having some moments to yourself, learning to be independent and take in the sights, sounds and smells surrounding you. The moments alone are the ones that will make you truly reflect on your trip and be grateful for what you have.
8. Staying in your comfort zone
If you stay in your comfort zone you’ll miss out on key opportunities and risk regretting it later one. Try to do as much as you can in your time abroad: face your fears, build new friendships, and take some chances. It’ll only make your experiences richer and increase your understanding of the host country’s culture.
If you can manage to avoid these mistakes people make when studying abroad, you can live an exciting and regret-free semester abroad!
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