Shaylyn Berntson is a student at Boise State University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Meknes, Morocco.
The more time I spend abroad the more I realize that going abroad doesn’t necessarily mean you are guaranteed a life-changing experience. A student can adapt superficially or have a more immersive and rewarding experience depending on their ability to open up to their host culture. Here is a list of ideas to consider while abroad to help you make it the best experience possible:
1. Budget: This should go without saying. I would consider making a list of must-do activities as early as possible in your trip so you allow yourself the opportunity to estimate expenses. This could help you avoid a prematurely empty wallet. Remember, those every day expenses add up.
2. Live for the moment: It is easy to focus on what we are going to do rather than what we are actually doing. No matter how hard it might be to push through the homesickness or the longing for the conveniences of home, try to remember that your time abroad is only temporary. It is what you make of it that will stay with you forever.
3. Get out of your comfort zone: Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it a million times before, but I promise you that it is only when you get out of your comfort zone that you make any real connections with the host culture and its people. Try to do the things that intimidate you most and as often as you can. The best way to learn about yourself and your place in the host culture is by testing your own limits.
4. Prioritize your travel and your school work: Sure, you’re in a foreign country and you want to travel as much as possible. I get it. But keep in mind that your school work really is important. Often it goes hand-in-hand with your experiences you may be having abroad, hence worth paying attention to. Maybe try to take the time to get ahead on school work so that you might have free afternoons and weekends for independent travel and excursions.
5. Appreciate everything: It is inevitable that you will miss your favorite foods and conveniences from home. But every mistake you make, every stressful situation and beautiful experience will end up culminating in an unbelievable life experience — if you let it. So appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly. And WRITE about it! You will be bummed if you don’t.
Want to read more about our students in Morocco? Check out “4 Questions to Ask Before Studying Abroad in Morocco”