Studying while Studying Abroad?

By: Kennedy Jarosz

How do you deal with studying for something outside of school while abroad? When I was studying in London and Rome in the spring semester of my junior year of college, I was also in the process of getting prepared to apply to law schools the following fall. This preparation included studying for the LSAT, the law school admissions test. I had a plan to take the test before leaving for Europe, but just like many things in life, that did not go according to plan and I ended up having to study for the test while abroad. 

Initially, I was constantly upset because I felt as if I was wasting my time abroad by studying. However, when I chose not to study, I was also upset because I knew I should have studied that day. After the first two weeks, I understood that it wasn't the studying that was preventing me from enjoying my time abroad; rather, it was how I was handling it. I immediately started looking for a strategy for how I was going to study without fully interfering with my time abroad. I discovered that even if I took out just 30 to 60 minutes a day for studying, I could still feel satisfied that I was finishing my work without it taking over my life. I made a point to study in new places around my neighborhood so that I was still exploring my new home. I found a routine that worked for me, and I learned to enjoy every part of it. 

kennedy abroad campus

While many people, including me, will tell you to enjoy every second of your experiences abroad, there is always this pressure that you must spend every second of your days doing something memorable. This feeling is real and very valid, but if you spend time stressing that you are not spending enough time doing exciting things every second of every day, you will tire yourself out and forget to enjoy living in the city. 

One of the wonderful aspects of studying abroad is that you are not just visiting for a couple of days, you are there for weeks and sometimes, months. You are meant to be seeing and understanding what it’s like to be living like a local in that city and part of living like a local in any city is living a normal life. Having a day of lying in bed and watching a movie, sitting outside and reading, or doing nothing all day except going to the grocery store. To some, including me at the beginning, this might sound like you are wasting your time abroad, but in reality, you are soaking up every second. Now that I am back home, I remember the crazy stories from my weekend trips, visiting the Colosseum and Big Ben, but I also remember the movie nights with my friends, making conversation with the clerk at the grocery store, and finding new places to study in my favorite parks. 

kennedy pond abroad

No matter what you do while you are abroad, focus on being happy and living life, whatever that may mean to you. Try not to compare your experience and your daily activities to anyone else’s because it will only lead to feelings of resentment and constant unfulfillment. Your time while you are studying abroad is yours, so do what you want, or sometimes in my case, what you need to do, but make the best out of it because whatever you end up doing, it will be some of the best and most memorable times of your life.