We asked and you answered! In our last installment of Q&A, we asked you:
If you could give one piece of advice to students interested in studying abroad, what would you tell them?
1. Forget Hesitation
Just go. Don’t think, don’t hesitate. It will change your life forever. It will open your eyes to the world, to a new perspective of life. It will give you an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and give you the ability to adapt to unknown situations. Studying abroad had the most incredible impact on my life, and I couldn’t imagine my life without my experience abroad. It has led me to be the person I am today. So go, just do it, with no hesitation. It will be the best decision of your life.
2. Don’t Limit Yourself
My advice would be to not have any expectations. In my experience, I set so many expectations before I went, based on my limited perspective of what I was really getting myself into. You’ll quickly realize that the majority of your expectations become limitations. There’s so much more the world has to offer, than what you’ve seen from your front door. Every day is going to give you the opportunity to set expectations while you’re in your host country; sights to see, things to do, friends to make–it’s all going to unfold in a way you could have never expected! I studied with a few kids who didn’t get the full experience, because it wasn’t what they expected it to be, and they ended up disappointing themselves. If you’re going to expect anything, expect to have an adventure.
-Josh Valdez, Paris, France, Spring 2014
3. Take Advantage of Every Adventure
Say yes. Study abroad is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Never again will you have the freedom and ability that you do during your time abroad; even if you do, you will never be as young. Skydiving? Yes. Spontaneous weekend trips to Barcelona? Yes. Climb the Eiffel Tower? Yes. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do,” so do not be quick to turn down adventures that come your way.
-Lindsay McGonagle, Lille, France, Summer 2014
4. Actually Make Local Friends
After my 5 months abroad the one thing I kept asking myself over and over was, “Who are my Spanish friends?” If I could go back and do it all over again I would definitely try to integrate myself much more. Whether it be going to local coffee shops, making friends with the local grocery store cashier, or even hanging out with the on-site staff, I always think of how much more I could have grown. Don’t get me wrong, I became a better, more well-rounded person but there is always that little voice in the back of my head wishing I would have dropped my US friends and got out there to meet the Spanish Locals!
-Zach Muskin, Barcelona Site Specialist, Barcelona, Spain, Spring 2009 Alum
5. Jump the Hurtles It Takes to Get There
Just do it! I am not particularly fond of the Nike way sometimes, but this is an opportunity that may not appear again. It can be a great amount of paperwork and preparation, but the best things in life are never easy to achieve. Studying abroad is an experience that is a privilege. Not everyone gets to go away for four or five months to study in Another World. So, get past the paperwork, grab your passport, and go beyond your comfort zone. I guarantee that however many summer jobs you juggle to reach your destination will be worth it.
-Kathryn Brock, Dublin, Ireland, Spring 2015
6. Set Goals Beforehand
Have a plan for what you want to get out of your study abroad experience. Like so many other things in life, you only get out of studying abroad what you put into it. You want to learn the language? Enroll in a class, break away from the English-speaking group, volunteer with a local organization. You want to develop a global perspective? Try new foods, listen to popular music, and befriend locals. Becoming a global citizen isn’t just something that “happens” to you when you go abroad; it’s a goal that you must work towards.
-Theresa Elizondo, Customs Program Manager, Salamanca, Spain, Summer 2010 Alum
7. Have Priorities
If I could give one piece of advice to interested students it would be: don’t try to do everything. Pick a couple of things you want to do. There are tons of things to do in every country. If you spend all of your time trying to do everything, you don’t get to enjoy what you’re doing. I planned my one big trip to Mendoza, Argentina. I was able to go all out because I didn’t try to do every little thing. Set priorities and live life!
-Brett A Martinez, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Summer 2014
9. Do Your Research
The best piece of advice I can offer to students interested in studying abroad is to do your research before you leave the United States. Whether it is relevant to your housing, coursework and curriculum, or things you want to do while abroad, being prepared is the best way to make sure that you’re study abroad experience is everything you imagined. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always have a backup plan!
-Caitlyn Fahey, Barcelona, Spain, Summer 2014
10. If You Aren’t Convinced by Now… Just GO FOR IT!
If I could give students one piece of advice, it would be to make it happen. The journey to your time abroad can be frustrating at some points; nerve-wracking at others, and you may find yourself asking “Can I really do this?” The answer is yes, you can, and you must, because study abroad will change your life in ways you can never imagine. Cheesiest thing you’ve ever heard? Maybe. Totally true? You bet. Get out there. The world awaits.
-Nikki Fabrizio, Alumni Relations Coordinator, Dunedin, New Zealand, Spring 2013 GL Alum
For next week, we’re very excited to ask you:
Why Should Guys Study Abroad?
Males are a historically underrepresented demographic on study abroad programs. If you’re a dude who studied abroad, we want to know: What caused you to study abroad? Why should other guys go abroad? Comment here, on the ISA Facebook page, or email your 50-100 word answer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any ISA student or alum is welcome to contribute!