Going abroad is a big deal! You are leaving your home environment, family, friends, and a different way of living, in order to embrace a new world.
Some things you just can’t plan, nor should you try. That’s the fun and adventure of being in a new place. However, going to a new country shouldn’t be so shocking that it leaves you unsettled.
Here are a few pointers from some of our past students and staff members on knowing how to embrace the unknown:
- Research the school, city, and country as well as you can. You should have an idea of the study abroad school’s reputation, strengths, popular courses, and class size. Talk to past students as well as the school’s admission counselors. They can give you insight into courses, local customs, pre-departure tips, and much more. Pick up the phone and call the school! They are there to talk to students just like you. Research the city where you’re going to stay to have an idea of traditions and culture. If you’re prepared and have an idea of what to expect, you’ll be able to ease into your new environment.
- Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. You’ve taken the first step in getting your passport and getting on the plane. Now it’s time to relish the experience and accept the cultural differences, the good and not so good. Keep your mind open and be observant and respectful of other ways of doing things.
- Meet new friends. Don’t be shy about meeting other people aside from your roommates! Befriend a new classmate, get involved in a language exchange, or meet new friends on some of the organized student trips. You’ll be amazed how quickly a friendship can blossom when you are discovering new restaurants, towns, and exhibits together.
- Take advantage of your professors’ office hours to learn more about the city and culture where you’re studying. Professors are some of the greatest sources of information and love to talk about their home country. At SRISA, the faculty members lead the field trips, so it’s like having your own highly-specialized expert with you to give you the low-down.
- Make sure the classes you take keep you on track with your major, but leave room to take an elective course or two. You may not ever have the opportunity again to take such rich, outside-of-the-classroom courses as you will in Florence. Popular courses like Food As Culture, Art History, Discovering Florence through Photography, History of Florence, Wine Marketing, Italian Mafia, Fashion Design, , and On-site Painting, stay in demand.
Have you studied abroad before? What was your experience and what other tips would you share with students?