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What NOT to do when studying abroad
Sarah Landrum

People always say that studying abroad is life changing. You know what? They’re absolutely right.


ThinkstockPhotos-73563117It’s one of the best opportunities you’ll have to break out of your comfort zone and adapt to a new culture. Best of all, it’s a lot of fun. Going on a vacation is great and all, but there’s no comparison to what you’ll experience by living abroad for several months or longer. Yet as ripe of an opportunity studying abroad is, there are some ways to mess it up and limit the overall experience.


Here are a few things NOT to do when studying abroad.


Don’t Befriend Only Fellow Foreigners


Every study abroad programme is different, but it’s not uncommon for all the exchange students to be housed together. Familiarity is a great thing when dealing with a new culture; just don’t rely on it. Make friends with local students and the world will really open up to you. You’ll discover amazing places, delicious foods and cultural tips that you’d never pick up on if you only hung out with fellow foreigners.


Don’t Rely on Speaking English


It’s amazing how many exchange students don’t bother learning some of the local language while living there. Depending where you live, it’s possible to get by with only English. It’s never ideal though. By just speaking basic survival level of another language, you’ll find everything becomes easier. Asking directions, buying from the market and making a bad joke in a foreign language amuses the locals and also makes your trip a lot less stressful.


Don’t Forgot to Travel


Odds are you’ll be busy with classwork. Despite the workload, take advantage of weekends and holidays to get off campus and see parts of the country while you have the chance. With being time limited, you might have take overnight buses or travel in some discomfort to make the most of your time. In the end it’ll be worth the trouble.


Don’t Neglect Recording Your Experience


Time will fly while you’re abroad, and when it’s all over you might forgot some of the great things you did. You can go old school and keep a journal detailing everything that happened. If that isn’t up your alley, think about using social media to log your journey. When you’re back home, you’ll appreciate for years to come having a log of everything you did.


Don’t Be 100% Responsible


The “study” aspect of studying abroad is important. However, it isn’t everything. Just don’t tell your parents this.


You shouldn’t ignore classwork or blow off all classes, but don’t let that consume all your time. Go out with your new friends often and make some unforgettable memories. Likewise, if squeezing in a great trip requires skipping a class, consider doing just that. It’s all about finding the right balance and if you’re on top of your assignments then it’s possible to have some fun. Your grades won’t suffer too much and you won’t regret it if you’re responsible about being irresponsible.

Don’t Stay Sheltered


When you’re studying in a place where everything is different, it feels good to fall back on your old habits. For example, the average person watches Netflix 96 minutes a day. As good as it might feel to binge on Orange is the New Black, you’re seriously missing out by doing this when abroad. Leave the room as much as you can because your time is limited. When the trip is over, you’ll remember all the fun times you had with new friends but you won’t remember what you watched.



Don’t Lose Touch With Your Friends


It’s a bittersweet feeling to have forged great friendships only to have to say goodbye. Still, stay in touch because you never know what might happen. After graduation and years down the road, your paths may cross again. Maybe they’ll come to your country and you can host them. Or maybe you’ll find the opportunity to go on another trip to their country.


In some cases – and this is absolutely possible – keeping in touch with those friends can open up career opportunities in the future if you’re willing to move abroad. It’s unpredictable where you or your friends might end up, so it’s important to stay in touch.