I had the time of my life! Over spring break I had the opportunity to study abroad in Belgium. I was able to learn and gain experience on a global level. Being able to learn and communicate with students in Europe has shaped my thought process and opened my mind to think outside the lines. Here are some tips that I recommend if you plan on studying abroad!
1. Research – I think the biggest mistake I made was failing to do research about the culture and the people. The communication style may be different depending on where you are traveling to. I think it’s beneficial to know some of the basics to navigate your way around if your first language is different from that country’s native language.
2. Communicate – The conversations that I engaged in while abroad had a heavy influence on the quality of my trip. It’s so important to communicate with others and ask things directly that you want the answer to, speaking to many people from many different backgrounds in Belgium gave me a wider viewpoint of their personal experience.
3. Put your phone down – It’s cool to take pictures on your phone but don’t allow yourself to get too wrapped up in it. You miss the experience by indulging in your phone constantly. Enjoy the people around you and conversate with someone new; you can learn something new from every person you meet.
4. Packing – Pack Light! There is no reason why you should carry along your entire closet, I did that and it was a huge mistake. I was struggling to carry my heavy luggage, I barely wore half of the stuff I packed. Don’t overwhelm yourself, pack only what you need and maybe a few extras.
5. Reflect – Reflect back on your experience everyday in a journal. Write down the things that stuck out to you and how things affected the way you felt. Going through a busy day, you can forget to take a moment and think about how your day impacted you. Help hold onto the memories by writing it all down.