Rather than give tips for studying abroad in Shanghai, I decided to just give tips for studying abroad in general. Here are my 5 tips:
1) Go the unconventional route.
Studying abroad is supposed to be an experience. Don’t decide to study away in London because you’re too lazy or too intimidated by the fact that you’ll have to learn a new language. Force yourself to push through your boundaries; chances are you’re more likely to learn new things that way. Don’t take the safe route (but obviously be safe in whatever you do). If you’re hesitant to travel to a nearby city on the weekends because you’d rather stay in your dorm and do homework, do it anyways! You will thank yourself later. Make your study abroad experience something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
2) It’s okay to be homesick.
Being homesick is a good thing. It helps you to realize how much you love and appreciate your family. Make sure that when you are feeling homesick, you take the time to contact family or friends from back home. Talking to them will make you feel much better. Another way to help you feel less homesick is to create a home away from home during your study abroad experience. Make friends that lift you up and are there for you when you need support, or have a favorite place you can go to whenever you’re feeling down. Your semester will be ten times better if you have a good group of friends you get to spend it with.
3) Know what to expect.
Don’t plan to study abroad in Shanghai, or any other foreign country for that matter, and expect everything to be the same as it is in America. Know that people will act, talk, walk, dress, and pretty much do everything completely different from you. Know that it’s okay for you to be different from them. Yes, there may be a culture shock when you first arrive in this foreign country, but keep an open mind and be willing to accept this new way of life that you’ll be living for the next four months. Do your research on wherever you’re moving to, and know proper customs, manners, etc. that way you won’t feel completely lost for the first couple of months.
4) Expect the unexpected.
Obviously there will be ups and downs that come along with moving to a whole new country, but don’t let the bad things get you down! We all hate when things don’t go as expected, but a lot of the time we’re just making a fuss about the little things. Those are the things that will teach us the most during our time abroad, and these lows are there for the better. Although there may be negative aspects to studying abroad, focus your time and energy on the positives. Remember that you’re where you are for a reason. Remember that you have the chance to learn and live in a whole new world. Remember that sometimes shit happens, and all we can do is accept it and move on.
5) Cherish every second.
This semester has the potential to be some of the best four months of your life – but only if you make it out that way. Not everyone gets to have the opportunity to study abroad, and if you’re one of the lucky few that gets to experience it, then cherish every second of it! A lot of people don’t realize how lucky we are to be provided with such amazing opportunities, and every so often we need to step back, look at our lives, and appreciate everything. Cherish every second of this experience because before you know it, it’ll be over and you’ll wish you could start the semester all over again (like me).