Studying abroad can be an amazing experience, but it really is what you make of it. Sure, getting to experience living in another country is great, but if you don’t put in an effort to get to know the city you’re living in or the people that live there, you’re going to go home with some regrets. If you’re currently studying abroad, or are leaving very soon for your overseas experience, try to avoid the common mistakes listed below.
1. Only making friends with people from your home country
It’s only natural to gravitate towards people from your home country, especially when you’re abroad. It’s reassuring to meet someone that misses the same food or tv shows that you miss. So I’m not saying don’t befriend people from your home country, what I’m saying is not to limit yourself. Try and make friends with people native to the country you’re in, or people from other countries and continents. It will teach you so much more about the world and will likely lead to new friend groups.
2. Not exploring the country you’re in (and the countries around it)
You have been granted the opportunity to study in another country for several months on end - take advantage of that!! Explore the country you’re in, and if possible even those around it. Be proactive and know when you have breaks from school. From there, check for cheap flights, trains, and buses to visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go!
3. Putting too much emphasis on studying
I understand that it is called a study abroad program, but let’s be honest, academics are usually a bit more relaxed when you’re studying abroad. Don’t disregard your schoolwork completely, but also don’t spend your entire six months cooped up in a library. Make sure to achieve a healthy balance!
4. Ignoring your friends and family at home
When you’re having an amazing time meeting new people and travelling the world it can be easy to forget to phone your parents, or message your friend back, but try not to do this! First of all, there’s really no excuse these days. With FaceTime, Skype, Viber, What’s App, iMessage (and the list goes on and on), it is ridiculously easy to keep in touch with people in other countries. Second, you’re going to be going home eventually and you don’t want your friends to think you forgot about them or that you don’t care.
5. Knowing nothing about the country you’re travelling to
It’s understandable to not know everything about a country you’ve never lived in, but try not to be too ignorant. Read up on the country you’re travelling to in advance. If the people speak a different language, perhaps learn a few conversational phrases, if the country has a particularly unique history, do a bit of research.
6. Constantly worrying about expenses
I know that travelling can be expensive, but if you’ve planned correctly than you’ve likely been saving up for your trip. It’s important to keep a budget, but it’s also important not to spend your whole trip worrying about money. It won’t be fun for you or your friends.
7. Not getting properly settled in
When you move to a new country, there are a few things you have to get sorted first, such as a new SIM card, a new bank card, a public transit pass, maybe even an international student card (no one wants to be carrying their passport around!). It’s best to take care of these things early. Having a working phone is key for communicating with new friends and not getting lost, while a local bank card will save you tons in transaction fees.
8. Not attending “dumb” orientation events
For those of you that aren’t into orientation events, try with all your might to actually attend a few for once in your life. You won’t regret it. This is one of the key ways you will meet people - and not just regular people, study abroad people. People that likely don’t have any friends yet and are in the exact same boat as you. Be outgoing!