Getting The Most Out Of Your Study Abroad Experience

By Danielle Wirsansky on August 31, 2018

The opportunity to study abroad is pretty amazing. Some people think that there is no value in studying abroad, but statistically speaking, these people are pretty far off the mark. Studying abroad is generally considered a very valuable experience and will help a young adult become more mature, get better jobs, and succeed later in life.

So perhaps it is settled. That is it. You are definitely going to study abroad. You want that amazing opportunity and everything that comes with it. You have committed to the experience. Now, how do you make the most of your study abroad experience? If you are going to go, you might as well make the most of your experience, right? You might as well milk the experience and get everything you can out of it, make it not only a positive experience but the best experience! Read on to learn some simple tips to help you get the most out of your study abroad experience.

Photo by Artem Bali from Pexels


Go Explore

So you have gotten there. You are in a new and distant land, foreign to you and the life you previously led. Everything is just a bit off. It is not necessarily different in a bad way—it is just different. And often, different can be a little bit scary. It really should not be that way, but it often is. The language, the food, the way people behave, how the cities look. The changes can feel overwhelming. You are there for school, and so you take refuge in your schooling. You go to class (you should always go to class) and immerse yourself in your work. After all, you have grades to maintain, and maintaining them should indeed be a priority.

However, there is way more to your study abroad experience than simply your schooling. You will be missing out on so much of what your experience could be if you let yourself stay overwhelmed and stuck in school, never venturing farther than your campus. There is a whole new city, no, a whole new country surrounding you. Go explore!

The prospect of exploring might be overwhelming, but it does not have to be! Start small. Instead of eating lunch in your campus cafeteria or dorm kitchen, take your food to go and go eat in a park within close walking distance. Instead of doing your homework cooped up in your dorm room, go and find a local café that appeals to you and do your work from there. Have a lot of reading to do? Take your books and articles and find a bench in a pleasant square or along a body of water.

If (and when) you are ready to go bigger, then you should! Visit the sites and attractions of the city. Visit famous museums or museums that intersect with your interests. See famous landmarks. Go on tours of the city, see shows, attend concerts.

And then, when you feel comfortable with that, go even bigger! Leave the city you are studying in and venture forth! Explore the country you are temporarily calling home. See its biggest cities and its smallest. Learn every nook and cranny of this new-to-you place. And when you think you have got a handle on that, go even bigger and venture into neighboring countries too. You have got the whole world at your feet—so do not miss the opportunity to explore more counties and cultures when you have easy access to them while studying abroad!

Learn the Language

Another great way to make the most of your study abroad experience is to really immerse yourself in the culture. You have got to live like a native, eat like a native, and most importantly, speak like a native. It is such a special opportunity when you get to learn a new language while you are actually living in a place where it is natively spoken. Learning it on your own, through an app, or at school is all good and well, but you will not truly learn a language until you can speak it with other native speakers on a regular basis.

Learning the language will help you by gaining you a new skill, but it will also help you do more. You will able to get more from the culture and community if you understand the language. You will feel more like you fit in as one of the people because you will not stick out. You can blend in. And being in a place where a language is being natively spoken will help you to get real and true conversational fluency. You will better be able to understand the connotations that words bring in this specific culture, which will help give you a deeper understanding of the culture itself. Slang, contractions, your accent, and your fluency will improve and soon enough you might even be able to pass as a native yourself!

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre, a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History, and an MA in Modern European History with a minor in Public History. While a graduate student, she served as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President/Artistic Director of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), (associate editor), (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor). Danielle has been lucky to be writing for Uloop since 2015 and to have served as the FSU Campus Editor since 2015.

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