It’s almost study abroad season! About 1,600 undergraduate students study abroad and if you are one of the lucky ones planning to spend next semester abroad, here are some tips from other Terps for how to prepare for one of the best journeys of your life.
1. Make sure to familiarize yourself with your country’s local customs, culture and people.
Take some time to better familiarize yourself with your study abroad country. A majority of students at UMD study in Europe – the biggest destination being Spain. By knowing even briefly your soon-to-be home’s culture, history, geography, economy and government, you will make your study abroad experience much more meaningful.
2. Study up on language.
Knowing a few words or basic sentences will make your first few weeks in a new home much easier.
3. Take time to travel alone.
Taking time to travel alone is when you really get to know yourself and reflect. “I definitely became more independent. There were a few times I had to fly alone or would spend the day exploring a new city by myself, and to do that you really need to be able to be independent and deal with difficult situations alone,” senior Taylor Aguiar said. “If you get lost, you need to be able to communicate with the locals and figure out where you are, and those moments of frustration and confusion teach you the most abroad, because you don’t have your family or UMD to lean on.” Aguiar studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.
4. Make sure to budget.
You will want to eat out all the time and spend money on souvenirs, but make sure to watch your spending because all of those little things add up and could prevent you from going on that one last weekend trip with all your new friends. Also, plan all your weekend trips ahead of time if you can. The earlier you book flights or train tickets, the cheaper it will be!
5. Be conscious of what you pack.
Make sure to bring comfortable walking shoes wherever you go, but leave behind things like toiletries because they can weigh you down. Instead, stock up on them once you arrive at your destination.
6. Take some risks and EXPLORE.
You are only abroad for a limited amount of time, so make sure to make the most of it. If you have the option between a nap or sightseeing, you know which you will regret later? Sleeping. If you are nervous about heights, don’t let it stop you from hiking to the top of a mountain, it could be the best view you’ve ever had. “Overall, [study abroad offered] new experiences that I never thought I would get a chance to be a part of,” said junior Jake Samson, who studied in Prague, Czech Republic, about his time abroad.