I studied abroad two times during my college career. Once was in Amsterdam in the Fall of 2015 during my sophomore year, the other was my final semester of college in Barcelona in 2018. The two experiences were very different as I had two years in between the semesters and a lot to learn. Here are the five things I wish I’d known my first time living and studying abroad.
Know your housing options and seriously consider Study Abroad Apartments
During both of my study abroad semesters, I struggled to find housing. My program did not offer housing included, so I was on my own in researching and booking a room for myself. The first go-round in Amsterdam I was paying almost double what most of the other abroad students were in the dorms, and I had the same type of apartment with a similar distance from the school. In Barcelona, I had lived in 4 different places within two months of arriving and lost hundreds of dollars in the process of finding a spot that worked for me.Study Abroad Apartments is much easier to work with when looking for a suitable room since it is an English friendly platform.
You need to be willing to step outside your comfort zone
Fortunately, I was pretty good about this both times I went abroad. I realized that when moving to a foreign country alone, I was going to have to go out of my way to make friends. Orientation week is the best time to do that, and I highly recommend attending all the orientation events your program offers to meet as many people as you can at the beginning of the semester.
Try to create a routine during the week when you are not traveling, including exercise
When I moved to the Netherlands the only thing I had to be at each week was class. After my classes finished in the early afternoon the rest of the time was mine to fill. Looking back I should have filled my pipeline with more regularly scheduled activities like working out or joining a nighttime social club. I found myself being lazy and not getting the most out of my time abroad. Spend the money to join a gym and look around your school for a social club to join!
Keep a journal of all your travel experiences
Some of my friends visited around 12 countries and 26 cities during the 3-4 months abroad. You will have so many new and exciting experiences that the details of your fun can get lost in the transition back to normal life. Keeping a journal with some notes about what happened when you were on Spring break in Portugal or skiing in the Alps will be nice to have and look back at when you are reminiscing on your travels abroad.
Be grateful for this opportunity and thank the people who gave it to you
I saved up a good amount of money to go abroad the second time around, but that doesn't mean I didn't have a tremendous amount of support from my parents, friends, and family. Whether they are paying your way or just encouraging you thank the people who are giving you the opportunity to live and study in a foreign country. Send them a postcard. This has earned me major points with both Grandmas during my abroad semesters.
Going abroad twice was the highlight of my college career. Take these tips with you to have the greatest experience possible. Be aware of your surroundings and make the most of the time you have. Happy Travels!
Are you about to embark on the trip of a lifetime? Study Abroad Apartments offers some great options for students planning to study abroad. Just get in touch with us if you need any help finding somewhere to stay and we’ll make sure you have one of the best options out there!