Advice on Studying Abroad


Hindsight is 20/20 they say, so if I’m able to give some hindsight as foresight to others, I would consider it privileged information. Studying abroad is hard. It puts you out of your comfort zone and into a new environment that you have to adapt to and learn in and that can be one of the hardest things you’ll do in your life; but you will definitely reap the rewards.
My first bit of advice is to plan ahead – apply for as many scholarships as you can grasp, because funding is out there. I received multiple scholarships for my academic year abroad, including the Gilman Scholarship and FLAS funding, which paid for over half of my program and left the program super affordable for me. The Office of Study Abroad is great for help in this area; I found out about the Gilman in the first place from Justine Hamilton when she mentioned that I should apply.
Secondly, when you leave for your adventure, make sure you write down what you want from this trip. Make a list of goals, so that after the months have passed, you can look back at what you achieved. This also helps you focus on what you want to get out of this experience.
Thirdly, make it a point not to only hang out with other Americans in your program. You should make as many friends or acquaintances as you can, while you’re in another country! This also forces you to learn a bit of the language and the culture, which is exactly what you’re there for! Don’t necessarily alienate your group, but seek out friendships that don’t develop in a safe environment, such as your group.
Lastly, enjoy yourself, but stay focused! Too much concentration on studying can bog you down, as you well know, but it is definitely more tempting in a foreign environment to neglect your studies to go out and have fun. Time management is key. I spent nine months abroad, received straight As, finished a humongous research paper while attending class and I still had time to go out with friends on the weekends and have an absolute blast! I am definitely proud of my time in Russia and I can’t wait to go back again!