How to Embrace Studying Abroad

Programs for this blog post

Arts + Sciences

Authored By:

Brooke W.

Studying abroad is an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people. Therefore take the time to really dive into the area, meet the local people, and embrace the outer limits of your comfort zone. 

1.Participate in all the activities CIEE provides to you

Many CIEE programs have cultural excursions that allow students to get to know their surroundings and about the history and culture of the country they are in. Even if some of the activities don’t interest you, they still wind up being a lot of fun and give you a chance to bond and meet other people from your program. During my program in Korea I signed up for the Kpop dance class and while that was something I was interested in when I was young, I had since grown out of it. But I thought it would be a good opportunity to let out my inner child and simply have fun. It turned out to be a blast and inspired me to continue taking dance classes, so I am so happy that I just did it. 

2. Embrace last minute plans

 I am the type of person who although I am adventurous, I like to have a solid plan and itinerary for my day. However, one of the biggest lessons I have learned from my time abroad is to embrace spontaneity and just go with the flow. Some of my favorite experiences have been on a whim with no plan backing it whatsoever. One of the best ways to do this while in Korea was to take the subway to a random station, get off simply, and explore the area. While you can’t do this in every country I found it to be one of the best ways to explore and find places that even locals were unaware of. I also learned how to constantly be expanding my social circle. When I met someone new I would genuinely try to make and keep plans with them. This opened me up to meeting even more people and even if we only met once or twice, it would still always be a great time. 

3. Don’t take too many credits 

You want to be able to really experience everything you can in your time abroad so while you should be keeping your grades up don’t overload yourself with classes. During my semester I only took 15 credits and that was the least amount I had ever taken before, and with many of them being hybrid courses (online and in-person) it gave me even more time to be able to experience the world around me. Therefore I recommend trying to orient your schedule in a way that you only have 4 days a week of classes rather than 5. It gives you both time to do your work and extra time to explore. 

4. Try to constantly visit new places

I know we as humans are creatures of habit, and habit makes you comfortable, but when you are abroad you want to take in as much as you can in the short time you are there. One of the best ways to do this is to create goals, such as, I want to try every ice-cream in the convenience store, or I want to try 2 new cafes every week. Things like this help you to find new places and branch outside of your city or town. 

5. Make an effort to try the local food

There are many people I know who simply default to the western food chains like McDonald’s, Subway, and Starbucks, and while they are good for when you begin to feel homesick. I would try to make a conscious effort to try all of the local food around you. Almost everyone in the State’s knows about Korean BBQ, but what most people don’t know is that the real thing is so much better. So go to markets and try everything, it is fun, you expand your palate, and you get a different understanding of the culture through the food.