I now have a little less than a month in Chile. After living abroad for four months, I have collected a list of some things I should have done or would recommend doing if you are going to live abroad.
Start a Journal or Blog:
Living abroad has been one of my most interesting and favorite experiences I have had in my life. Writing down what you have done on a special event, every week, or even every day is a great way to remember and record the memories. I know that in the future I will enjoy being able to read the journal I kept and look back on how much I had grown.
When you’re living in a new country with completely new people, you have the ability to reinvent yourself. Being exposed to a new language and culture can be difficult, but that’s the reason you’re abroad! Try to be more open minded and adventurous when you are given the chance and grow from your actions and mistakes. Although this may seem easier said than done, by the end of your trip you will be able to look back and see how much you’ve grown whether the changes you made were conscious or subconscious.
Reach Out to People:
Living abroad and going to a school where everyone speaks a foreign language can be very challenging and in the beginning a little lonely. Try to refrain from holding back and instead reach out to people. If you don’t understand a word or phrase, ask someone! While it may be an easy solution to just look up the translation on your phone, it is easier to learn from asking and will more likely stay in your head. Not only will asking questions help you learn quicker but it is also a great way to meet new people and start conversations. Although it is likely that your classmates will want to get to know you, it is also true that if you remain reserved and closed off, it will be harder for you to bond with them. Try your best not to retract into your comfort zone.
Pick School Friends Over Program Friends:
It can sometimes become difficult to be able to make time for your friends from the program and your foreign friends. While it is definitely important to be able to get a break and speak English with your friends from the program, in general, try to choose plans with school friends over program friends. You’re here for the purpose of learning more about the culture and language so make sure not to compromise your goals for comfort. In my four months here I have bonded with my classmates and am lucky to have a great friend group! My friends from the program are very understanding if I am unable to hang out and share the same mindset.
I hope that if you are thinking about going abroad you take these tips into consideration. I have tried my best to follow my own advice and it has helped me maximize my time and experience here in Chile. It is still crazy to me to think about how different my life was just four months before and how much I have grown and learned in the short time I’ve been here.