Four Tips for a Semester Abroad
A semester abroad entails countless lessons as well as memories. Yet, there are unexpected scenarios a student may face whilst being in a foreign country. Although I was aware that I could face challenges while being abroad, I was unaware of how I could avoid specific scenarios. Similarly, I realized that the impromptu decisions I made happened to heighten my experience as well. Thus, I have generated a list of tips that students should consider prior to embarking on their semester abroad.
1. Learn how to enjoy quality time with yourself. Although I was constantly around my peers, I found that I was “alone” quite often. Rather than believing that I was lonely, I embraced the time I had with myself. I went on long walks around London, and discovered coffee shops that I would not have had the opportunity to enjoy otherwise. Hence, I suggest making the alone time you have with yourself empowering, and utilizing that time to reflect on your semester abroad to fully enrich your experience.
2. Go with the flow in regards to your travels. The most fulfilling aspect of studying abroad is the freedom to travel. However, I would suggest that you plan your travels once you arrive. I realized that I planned a majority of my trips while I was in London, and it allowed me to travel to countries that I least expected. For example, my trips to Denmark and the Canary Islands were planned last minute, though I was not planning on visiting these destinations previously. Yet, looking back at my time abroad, I would describe those two trips as my favorite.
3. Find opportunities to network in your desired field. The most impressive, as well as driven, individuals I met while socially networking happened to reside in London. The relationships I established while being abroad not only impacted my future career, but how I perceive my academic endeavors. By conversing with individuals from various backgrounds, I acknowledged how I could challenge myself in the workforce, as well as become an improved version of myself when I return to Berkeley. Hence, I recommend exhibiting your social networking skills not only to establish connections, but to receive feedback on how you can further advance in your field. The thought process of individuals from various backgrounds allows for a fresh perspective on topics that are often overlooked, or considered to be unimportant. Thus, actively interacting with individuals while you are abroad would allow you to decrease the potential barriers you experience in your academic field.
4. Contact the University that you will be attending abroad prior to your departure. Prior to my departure, I reached out to the University I attended whilst abroad, yet, I did not communicate with them to the extent that I should have. I realized that the University I attended had contrasting learning objectives and grading scales in comparison to UC Berkeley, which led to me experience anxiety. Hence, I suggest navigating through your University’s agendas and policies by contacting them or conducting research in order to avoid discrepancies regarding your academic career.