I have recently started my semester-long study abroad at Keele University in England. Studying abroad is an exciting and enriching experience, but with it comes a lot of fear and questions. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you transition into a successful study abroad experience.
DO attend the university hosted events
Typically during your first week, your new university will have lots of fun events and parties. Take advantage! This is a great way to meet people and see the campus. Ask your advisor or take a look at their student website to find out what’s happening on campus.
DON’T spend too much time attached to your phone
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so don’t waste it staring at a screen! Put your phone aside and make conversation! If you do have some downtime, ask around about popular TV shows that you can’t get in America; it's a great way to immerse yourself even further in the culture.
DO walk around campus to find your classes before the first day
To avoid a stressful first day, take some time before classes to find all their locations. This will ease some of the first day jitters.
DON’T overwhelm yourself with social events
Although it’s important to get out there and meet people, it's not worth it if you’re emotionally and physically drained. Make sure to set aside some time to call home or take a nap. Jet lag is very real and you won’t enjoy yourself if you’re struggling to stay awake.
Do say YES!
The best way to make friends is to attend social events. If someone asks you to do anything, just say yes for the first few weeks!
DON’T be afraid to ask questions
The majority of people you meet are super willing to help, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need it. A great conversation starter with students from your host country is to ask for recommendations on what to do and eat.
DO make the initiative
Chances are most people are just as nervous as you and are waiting for someone to invite them out. Be that person! Take a chance and reach out! Making a group chat for all the international students is helpful as well, then you have more of a chance to find someone to accompany you!
DON’T stick only to people from your home
If you’re coming to study abroad with other people from your university, make sure to still make an effort to meet other people. The new relationships and sharing of new cultures is part of the study abroad experience.
DO make your dorm a little more like home
Decorating your living space for just one semester is tricky because you won’t be able to bring those items home. However, buying one or two things to add some color to your room really helps make it feel more like home. Ask around about some affordable stores nearby and pick up some pillows and blankets. Another great way to add your personality is to print pictures and poster images at home because they won’t take up very much space in your luggage.
DO your research before coming
There are so many resources on the internet of things to bring and tips on study abroad. Do you need a plug converter? Is your “holy grail” hair product not sold there? Check these things out before arriving.
DON’T take this experience for granted!
The longer you are in your program, the more comfortable you will feel. But don’t forget that your return flight is in the near future! Seize this opportunity to have as many experiences and relationships as you can, and make the most of the amazing privilege you have as a study abroad student! Happy traveling!