Five ways to balance study abroad and travel

By Tayler Baldwin

Studying abroad is a transformative experience that offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture while pursuing your education. However, balancing the excitement of exploring a new country with the demands of academic responsibilities can be challenging. I recently had the privilege of studying abroad in London, England and discovered valuable lessons on how to strike a balance between academic excellence and the adventures of living in a new city. Here are five key takeaways from my experience:

Effective Time Management is Key: One of the first and most crucial lessons I learned was the importance of effective time management. When you're in a new country, the temptation to explore every corner can be overwhelming. However, it's essential to create a realistic schedule that allocates dedicated time for both academics and exploration. Utilize tools such as calendars and planners to stay organized, and prioritize your academic commitments to ensure you meet deadlines and maintain a good academic standing. Studying and doing homework on planes, trains, and other forms of transportation are your friends during this time - and investing in a portable form of WiFi will help avoid any potential service issues. 

Establish a Study Routine and Place: Creating a study routine is essential to stay on top of coursework. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus, whether it's a local library, a cozy café, or your accommodation. Having a consistent study environment helps you get into the right mindset and enhances your productivity. Additionally, establishing a routine makes it easier to balance your academic responsibilities with the spontaneity of travel. One of the first things I did when settling in London was find the cafes close to my CIEE accommodation that offered WiFi, lots of plugs, and were friendly to students and remote workers. 

Embrace Flexibility and Adaptability: While maintaining a study routine is crucial, it's equally important to be flexible and adaptable. Unexpected opportunities may arise, such as last-minute invitations to local events or spontaneous weekend trips. Embrace these experiences, but also be prepared to adjust your study schedule accordingly. Cultivating a balance between structure and flexibility is key to making the most of your study abroad experience. 

Build a Supportive Network: Surround yourself with a supportive network, both academically and socially. Connect with fellow students in your CIEE program to form study groups: forming study groups not only enhances your understanding of course material but also provides a sense of community and shared responsibility. Additionally, seek guidance from CIEE professors and academic advisors who can offer valuable insights on managing academics while abroad. At the end of the day, CIEE support staff is here to help you strike the balance between cultural experiences and academic success, so take advantage of their knowledge and resources! 

Reflect and Prioritize Self-Care: Amidst the hustle and bustle of studying abroad, it's crucial to take moments for self-reflection and self-care. Understand your personal limits and recognize when it's time to prioritize your well-being. Whether it's taking a day off to explore the city or simply relaxing with a good book, maintaining a healthy balance between academic commitments and personal time is essential for a fulfilling study abroad experience. Another important factor within self-care abroad is continuing your habits from home - if you love hiking or yoga or reading, finding ways to continue those hobbies abroad will help you find a sense of stability within the excitement of a new place. 

Studying abroad is an incredible journey that combines education with cultural exploration. By mastering effective time management, establishing a study routine, embracing flexibility, building a supportive network, and prioritizing self-care, you can successfully navigate the delicate balance between academics and the adventures that await you while studying abroad with CIEE.