Emily graduated from Temple University with a degree in Spanish Language and literature, a minor in Italian and a strong passion to see the world. After studying abroad in Oviedo, Spain for six months, she finished her last year of school before starting off her world adventures. She taught English in Italy for three months and is currently living and teaching English in an indigenous community in Otavalo, Ecuador.
Studying abroad is becoming a must-have experience for students these days. Not only do you get an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it also helps you stand out to future employers. However, simply going abroad doesn’t mean you are going to get a worthwhile experience. Here are a few mistakes students make when they go abroad that you should try to avoid.
1. Never going to class
It’s called STUDY abroad for a reason. Some people get so caught up in the traveling that they forget they have class work to finish up. You’re classes count towards your degree. The last thing you want is to be on academic probation when you get back from your amazing experience because you were too busy to bother studying.
2. Always going to class
That being said, don’t be afraid to take a long weekend every once and a while to check out a festival going on in the next town over, or to take a trip somewhere. You can learn a lot in a classroom, but you can learn just as much, if not more, outside the classroom.
3. Being too afraid to meet new people
If you are out on a Friday or Saturday night, talk to some of the local students that are your age. If you are sitting in the cafeteria, sit with some of the local students or even other study abroad students and start up a conversation. You never know. You may make some new, long-lasting friendships from all around the world.
4. Not practicing language skills
If are studying abroad in a country that doesn’t speak English, you should leave there with a better grasp of the language. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes when talking to locals. Not only will they appreciate the fact that you are trying, but they’ll help correct you. You’ll be able to converse better and sound more natural when you speak.
5. Living with all Americans
It’s tempting to study abroad with your closest friend(s) and then live with them. However, if you want to really know how the people in that country live, you have to live with them. Live with a family or stay with local students. You’ll have a much more authentic experience and it’s great language practice if you aren’t in an English speaking country.
6. Talking to your family and friends back home every day
Homesickness is bound to happen, and you would think that the best way to avoid it is to always talk to everyone back home. This can actually make things worse. Try to limit yourself to at least once a week. You’ll be able to stay updated with what is going on at home, but you won’t be so involved that you forget that you are in another country.
7. Not immersing yourself in the culture
Eat their food, participate in their activities, and act like a local. Staying with a host family is the best way to do this. You are there to learn about that culture so do as much as you can to act like a local.
8. Drinking too much
Observe the local drinking habits. Going out and getting a few drinks with friends isn’t bad, but one thing that Americans have a reputation for is going a little too crazy when it comes to alcohol. Many other countries find it very acceptable to drink, even at younger ages. That doesn’t mean you need to go nuts.
9. Spending too much time on social media
You want to share all your pictures on instagram and tweet about every meal you eat, or facebook message your best friend daily. Don’t let yourself get too wrapped up in social media. You’ll be so busy talking about all the small things you did, you’ll miss out on bigger opportunities. In order to share your experiences with your family, you have to live them first.
10. Not keeping in touch with the people you meet after you come home
The only people that truly understand the experience you had while studying abroad are the people you met on your trip. You can go back and visit them, or they can come and visit you. Either way, maintaining those relationships is a great way to keep those memories alive as well as create new ones.
Study abroad is one of the best experiences that you can have in college, and it’s the only time in your life to try it out. Make sure you avoid these mistakes so you can make the most of that experience.