Think about your goals, and then do your research. If one of your goals is to have opportunities to get to know local people, make sure you choose a program that will maximize your exposure to locals. If affordability is key for you, look at more cost-effective destinations, or options like volunteering or interning as an alternative to a traditional study abroad program.
- Say yes to new experiences - Once you are abroad, make the most of opportunities you don't have at home, even if they put you outside your comfort zone. Make friends with local students. Try out a new sport or dance. Eat new foods. Speak a new language. The best way to get over culture shock is to throw yourself in to your new experience 100%. Time flies when you're abroad, and when your program is over you'll be so glad that you made the most of it!
- Don't sweat the small stuff - Life is rarely perfect, and this is certainly true with international travel. But keep in mind that learning to manage those little bumps in the road often ends up being the most memorable and lasting lesson from an international experience. Getting outside of your comfort zone is what studying abroad is all about!
- Bring a camera! - You're going to want to remember all the amazing things you did, saw, and ate, and all of the new people you got to know. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and they're a great way to keep your memories for a lifetime.
- Stay on top of the details - Life-changing international experiences can't happen if you never reach your destination because your visa arrived too late. Visit with the Learning Abroad Office and I will guide you through these processes step-by-step to make sure you aren't spending your time worrying about paperwork.
- Reflect and share - Take some time while you're abroad and after you return to reflect on everything you've learned. Share your experiences with friends, family, and other returned study abroad participants. Your stories may very well encourage others to study abroad, too!