Going abroad is going to change you. You are going to make incredible memories and go through unique experiences that you might not have otherwise. But it is important to remember that going on a study abroad program comes with a condition- studying. As fun as it is to be overseas, don’t forget that you’re there as a student. Classes, studying, and doing homework are an essential part of this experience. Here are a few tips on how to navigate school work, no matter where you are in the world.
1. Register for classes that are specific to the area.
If you have the ability to pick which classes you’d like to take, it is beneficial to take a class that has to do with the general area. Taking a class that is specific to the region is a special experience in itself. You learn much more about where you are living, the history there, and the people who live within the city. It’s also likely that you will better understand the art that you pass, the geological history of the mountains nearby, or the dialect of your local area. There may even be “field trips” to visit where moments in history occurred or to collect field samples. Taking a class that is specific to the area where you are can enhance your experience in your host city.
2. Take classes seriously.
We all have to graduate at some point and you’re paying tuition for the classes you take abroad. Take these classes just as seriously as you would if they were at home. Spend time completing problem sets, finishing reading assignments, or formulating topics for class discussions. It can be very easy feel like exploring is more important than your assignments. And while adventure is out there, it will still be out there when you finish writing your paper or studying for your quiz the next day. Having your courses from abroad boost your GPA isn’t a bad perk, either!
3. Take a class in the native language.
“But I’m nowhere near fluent!” That's ok! Even if you take a class where you learn the language, practicing the colloquialisms and keeping up the language while you’re there can only help your stay. If you know the language, but are not fluent, most universities will offer courses that are taught in both English as well as the native language, to offer a more basic and comfortable environment than a class that native speakers would take.
4. Make a study group.
You may not know anyone around you at first, but you will grow to have quite a few friends by the end of your semester. It is important to make connections and foster relationships while abroad, especially for classes. College course material is difficult and time consuming, but splitting up readings and talking through assignments with someone else can be a big help, especially when the foreign landscape is calling your name. These individuals will become your partners in and out of the classroom and can even keep you accountable to keeping up your studies.
5. Find a place to do your work.
When you are not in class or in your home/hostel/dorm, find a place where you can be productive. There are probably quite a few places where you can be productive and get a lot of work done on your campus in the US. Try to find similar places while abroad. This is advantageous because you’re still exploring the city and localizing yourself while completing your coursework and studying hard.
6. Develop a schedule.
You may not need to schedule in study or homework time while at home, but with a plethora of activities and fun places to explore while abroad you can easily lose track of valuable study time. Use what you know about yourself and your habits to design a schedule when studying for tests and completing assignments on time. This will allow you to get everything that you need to get done out of the way, while leaving plenty of time to take advantage of the opportunities that being abroad has to offer.
Studying abroad has so many personal and professional benefits. While it's important to be adventurous and explore your new home, it's just as important to take your studies seriously.