Make an Effort with International and Local People
A semester abroad is a unique opportunity to make a wide circle of international and local friends. Whether it’s cooking a meal for your host family, or simply striking up a conversation with the person next to you in class, endeavoring to have a diverse circle of local and international friends will enhance your experience.
Ask Around About Where to Spend Money
Although you will probably begin your semester abroad with a bucket list of places to visit, the restaurants, galleries and experiences marketed towards tourists will be expensive. Ask your new local friends to take you to their favorite bars, restaurants, and activities, which will most likely be cheaper and more authentic alternatives.
Give it a Go with the Language
Try and learn some of the language before you leave for your semester abroad or hire a language teacher while you are there. The fact that you are making an effort to learn the language will set you apart from tourists, help you build deeper connections, and make you feel more at home in your host country. Do not worry about making mistakes; no one expects you to learn to speak a language fluently in three months, and the misunderstandings and conversations that turn into charades will result in fits of laughter and memories made!
View it as an Investment in Your Future
Completing a semester abroad looks great on your CV, and could be what differentiates you from other applicants. When challenges arise, face them with a positive outlook and remember that the experience is helping you develop, both as a prospective employee and as a more confident and independent person.
Be Open to New Experiences
Make the most of every opportunity. When you have a busy school schedule, it can be tempting to hit the snooze button on your days off. However, you are only in your chosen country for a semester, so prioritize exploring. Whether it is trying a local sport, eating new cuisine, or taking a strange-sounding class, saying ‘yes’ to new experiences is key to having memorable adventures and lots of stories to tell upon your return.
By Megan Brickley