Studying abroad can be hard: homesickness, lost wallets, friendship drama. However, it is also an extremely rewarding experience and a chance to make life long friends and truly live somewhere you probably would never get the chance to. Here are nine of my tips to future study abroad students:
- Wait before planning trips with newly made friends
When I first got to Prague I started making plans to travel with people right away. People I had just met and people whose traveling style I was unfamiliar with. While, I definitely don’t regret any of the trips I took, I would recommend not rushing and booking a ton of trips during the first week or two until you’re sure you will vibe with your traveling partners.
- Don’t be afraid of traveling alone
I traveled to Morocco by myself over fall break and it was such a great experience. I travel alone quite often and I usually don’t think twice about it, but when I told people they expressed incredulity and concern. Morocco is a liberal Muslim country and there are certain precautions women must take, but it was an amazing experience and as long as you’re street smart I wouldn’t think twice about traveling alone. *Definitely stay in a hostel though… it is much easier to meet people there.
- Don’t be upset if you get ripped off
I know a few travelers that expressed distaste, frustration, and even anger when getting ripped off when traveling. Obviously it is unfortunate but you’re traveling to a country that is not your own so I consider getting a little ripped off as a part of the country “tax”. Try to avoid it when possible and fight it if it is truly absurd, but don’t get in a fight with the taxi driver if he charges you a couple dollars more than the going rate. You’re a visitor in their country.
- Meet new people from different cultures and make room for local friends
Make sure you branch out of your daily, NYU infused existence and strike up a conversation at the bar or the café. It is important to stay in small groups of two or three when doing this because a gaggle of loud American students will undoubtedly scare everyone off in a five-mile radius.
- Exercise tolerance with others including yourself
Be patient when people whose traditions, attitudes, and language is different than yours. Sometimes this tolerance should include you! When you buy the wrong train ticket or get fined on the metro, just be patient with yourself and realize you need some time to learn the system.
- Don’t drink all the beer- there’s always more
Study abroad students are notorious for drinking too much, especially in Prague. I know it is exciting to be legal, but don’t let your drinking lead to all day hangovers.
- Make connections with your professors
The professors in Prague are extremely knowledgeable and respected in the Czech community and abroad. Engaging in conversation in and after class lays the groundwork for a fruitful relationship and my professors have given me amazing career advice and even recommendations!
- Try everything once
From fish eyes to camel, take the leap and try it once. Different cultures have to be experienced through their food and who knows… that slimy herring might be the best thing you have that weekend!
- You can always do the assignment in the morning
While maintaining good relationships with professors is imperative, do go on that trip or to that event because ultimately you’re 20 and can rally to do it before class. You’re not going to remember your grades. You’re going to remember your memories.