If you’re one of the lucky few who got the chance to be on a student exchange program, you’re in for a wonderful, rewarding experience that will broaden your horizons and change the course of your life. Studying abroad is incredibly useful, not just because it looks good on your resume, but also because it opens a whole new range of opportunities for you that will help you grow as a person.
From my experience as an Erasmus student who spent a full academic year in Ireland, here are some ways to make the most of your first semester in study abroad:
1. Take your studies seriously.
While the laid-back atmosphere in a student dorm, with like-minded students from all over the world wanting to have fun may incite you to join them and have a blast, don’t forget you’re in that country to study. Your top priority is to fulfill your academic obligations, which involves attending school regularly, doing your coursework, passing your exams etc. This will prevent any unpleasant situations (such as having to travel back to retake failed exams) and it will benefit you in the long term because you’ll accumulate useful knowledge that will help your career. You will also obtain good grades, which will make you proud and your parents happy.
2. Visit, travel, explore.
Whether it’s the UK, the Netherlands or Mexico, you’re in a new, unknown country that is worth exploring in depth. To the extent that your budget allows you, use this once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to other cities in your chosen country, to visit museums, art galleries and other places of cultural importance, to go sight-seeing and get to know famous landmarks etc. One of the ways to know the culture you’re in contact with is by going places and experiencing these new environments up-close.
3. Hone your foreign language skills.
If the country where you’ll be studying speaks a different language than yours, this is a great opportunity to interact with natives. It is now when you can really put your skills to use, as well as pick up the accent and absorb new knowledge to the maximum. No intensive language course or specialization can create the unique experience of being abroad and talking to natives firsthand, because you’re completely immersed in the foreign language.
By following the above advice, you can truly make the best of your studying abroad experience and take advantage to the fullest of the opportunities that are offered to you.