3 Tips To Have a Successful Semester Abroad
As a current Sophomore in the Global Management Program; I was expecting to study abroad in London in Fall of 2020. However, the global pandemic postponed what I thought was going to be the “most unique Freshman year experience.” Although I was expecting to be in London as a Freshman, I could not describe how my experiences thus far at UC Berkeley have transformed the way I visualize my Fall of 2022 semester abroad. As a Freshman, I imagined studying abroad as an opportunity to enjoy my surroundings, and indulge in various cultures. My perspective remains the same; yet, I perceive the opportunity in a new light.
Traveling abroad has crossed the minds of most UC Berkeley students. But, the act of coordinating a semester abroad might come off as daunting. I viewed my future semester abroad as an opportunity to discover a new environment, and surround myself with divergent individuals as well as cultures. Yet, as I’ve matured, the intentions behind my semester abroad have been altered. I view my time abroad as an occasion to improve and further develop my character in a new environment. Thus, my goal is to rediscover myself, and utilize the new skills I develop to flourish in Berkeley. In hopes to assist students wanting to maximize their time abroad, here are three tips as to what students should focus on throughout their time abroad.
#1: Live like a Local
If you imagine what “living like a local” might mean to you, it most likely revolves around immersing yourself in a foreign culture and taste testing as many traditional meals as possible. However, I challenge you to set a daily routine for yourself while you are abroad; whether that be going to a local coffee shop, getting a workout in, or going for a walk in your neighborhood. I believe that the typical version of living like a local translates to the definition of being a tourist. While traveling abroad, I plan on setting myself up for success each day by waking up early and taking advantage of the beautiful streets of London by going for a long walk. By creating a “homey” routine for yourself, you truly begin to live and experience life as though you are a true local. Hence, you will naturally immerse yourself in the culture, just by observing others’ routine. Perhaps the locals in your neighborhood gather at a specific coffee shop or cafe. By creating a simple routine for yourself, you will subconsciously discover spots to visit that will fully immerse you in the local lifestyle. Most importantly, creating a routine will allow you to feel at home, and as though you have control over the new life you’re living. Traveling abroad can be overwhelming at times, and by setting yourself up for success on a daily basis, the transition will become smoother and easier to digest.
#2: Explore what your country has to offer
A semester abroad involves traveling to as many neighboring countries as possible. Often, we forget about the city we are residing in. Therefore, I suggest that you make the effort to visit the small towns near your location, and fully indulge in what your country has to offer. Throughout my travels, the most memorable locations have been the small, quaint towns that are often not extremely popular. The most exquisite architecture, food, and people are always where we least expect them to be. While I’m abroad, I plan on taking advantage of the Metro; as I’ve heard that there are various hidden treasures that are of close proximity to London. My goal is to find a balance between traveling to neighboring countries, while still appreciating the United Kingdom. The best feeling is fully immersing yourself in a country, and establishing yourself in a new environment. I want to feel as though I fully took advantage of living in a foreign country, and return to Berkeley feeling as though I know “every corner” in London. The best memories emerge from discovering locations and towns that are of close proximity to you, and enjoying the familiarity of a foreign place.
#3: Never say “No”
Life is often too short to say “No;” especially when you are abroad. Of course, if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable in a given situation, rightfully say “No.” However, if you are willing to step outside your comfort zone, say “Yes!” If the individuals you are traveling with decide to go to a restaurant or neighboring country that doesn’t fully sit well with you, try it out regardless. The whole point of studying abroad is to broaden your horizons, and experience aspects of life that are foreign to you. I plan on saying “Yes” to changing my routine. For example, if I have plans to go to a workout class or go for a walk, I’ll consider changing those plans to enjoy time with friends. Saying “Yes” doesn’t have to revolve around challenging your morals or virtues, rather, accepting the small plans that could further develop your character as well as create lifelong memories.