Nov 13 2022

10 Things to Do to Utilize the Time When Studying Abroad

Annet (Translator)


At the university where I work, students have the opportunity to study abroad for a short term, about a semester or a summer. In recent years, the school has organized study abroad programs in several European and South American countries. Last week, a student shared with me that she is very excited to prepare to go to school in Greece. She asked me how to make the most of my time in Greece.

This post was inspired by my conversation with that student. The article shares 10 things you should do to get the most beautiful and memorable memories and experiences while studying abroad, especially if you are only going to study for a short time.

1. Focus on learning

I know many of you study abroad with the desire to travel and learn a new culture. However, if there is an opportunity to study abroad, one should try to make the most of the country's education, and put learning first. First, find out what the educational philosophy and strengths of the host country are. Whether you go to school in a European, Asian, or Middle Eastern country, each country has its own special points about education.

 Even if you're engrossed in learning about your new country, don't forget to attend class regularly, and actively participate in class discussions and activities. Look for opportunities to build good relationships with professors and classmates. Always look for ways to learn the most from professors.

2. Make friends with students from different countries

When I first study abroad, I often like to exchange and chat with friends from Vietnam. But if you are only studying abroad for a short time (1-2 years or even shorter), look for opportunities to make friends with students from many different countries.

Building relationships with friends from five continents has many benefits. Firstly, you have the opportunity to practice English, especially listening skills. You will learn how to understand different voices.

Second, you will realize that many stereotypes and prejudices about foreigners, especially those from countries that we consider "less developed" than Vietnam such as Africa or the Middle East, are not. exactly. You will learn to respect the diversity of this world.

Third, having many friends in many countries also helps you save money when traveling. I still remember my visit to Italy in the summer of 2014. Because I have friends in many different cities, I can visit many places imbued with Italian culture at a very reasonable cost.

 3. Immerse yourself in the local culture

Although studying is the most important thing, don't forget to learn about the culture of the host country. There are many ways to better understand a country's culture: read books, visit museums and important cultural and historical sites, talk to locals, and live with a host family.

If your studies are too busy, you can participate in the cultural activities of the host country on weekends or public holidays. Many people like to visit big, modern cities and see the skyscrapers, but I think that, to really understand a country's culture, one should take the time to visit areas like the countryside, and small cities.

My most memorable memory while studying in England is spending Christmas with the English family in Chichester, a small, peaceful city near Brighton. When sharing with her that I found a short-term job after graduation, she did not hesitate to invite me to live with her family. To this day, I still occasionally contact and update my life situation with them.

4. Record your life abroad

My biggest regret when I first went to study abroad was not documenting my daily journey and experiences. If possible, open a blog and share your journey. Blogging not only helps you keep memories, but can also provide useful information to the community.

If you are afraid to share what you write with people or are too busy to write a lot, try the “One Line A Day Journal” product.

Each page of One Line A Day will allow you to succinctly record the important events of a certain day, within five years. The great thing is, you can only have enough room to write 2-3 sentences per year, so you have to choose to rewrite the most memorable events of the day.

I have been using this diary for 3 years now and am very satisfied. Every night before going to bed, I spend about 5 minutes writing down 2-3 most memorable events of the day. I can re-read what happened on this very day years ago. Very interesting indeed!

For example, on October 9, 2020, I wrote that my companion and I went to Joshua Tree National Park in California and had dinner at a delicious Mexican restaurant.

On October 9, 2021, I wrote, Pumpkin was born for two weeks, she taught night eating 3 times. When she finished eating, Dad wrapped her tightly and put her in the cot and she fell asleep on her own.

On October 9, 2022, I wrote, Pumpkin was able to walk around the house by the wall. In the afternoon, the whole family went to dinner at BJ and we really liked the food.


5. Adapting to a new culture


When we live a long time in an environment, we often pay little attention to the values and beliefs of ourselves and the community of that environment.

 But when you live abroad and adapt to a new culture, you will have the opportunity to examine your own values, assumptions and beliefs and discover how they are being challenged by your experiences. Record the changes in your perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and values that you follow, and the lessons you learn from those changes.

6. Keep yourself busy to reduce feelings of homesickness

Don't spend too much time alone in your room, chatting with friends and family at home. Go out and explore your new city and country. Actively enroll in school-organized activities or activities planned by friends.

You will eventually return home, but you can only experience your time abroad right here and now!

 7. Set a goal and make a plan to achieve it

Why do you want to study abroad? What do you want to achieve and experience? Take a moment to think carefully about your goal. If your goal is to improve your CV and spend a few years at the best school possible, your choices and experience will be a lot different than if you just wanted to have fun and see the world.

Always think about your goals while abroad and think about how you will achieve them. Without a specific plan, time will pass quickly and in vain. By the time you want to start working on something, it may be time to go home.

 8. Buy experiences instead of things

How you spend your money is a personal choice. When studying abroad, some people want to spend money on things like clothes, cosmetics, and shoes, while others like to use money to buy experiences such as traveling, going to museums, and participating in cultural activities. other.

Personally, I prioritize spending on experiences over gadgets. Things are only meant to be used for a short time, but the experience will change your worldview and stay with you forever.

 9. Develop the skills needed for a career

If you make the most of your time studying and working abroad, you will learn a lot of valuable skills such as cross-cultural communication skills, organizational and problem-solving skills, adaptability, patience, and leadership skills.

Look for opportunities to develop those skills through classroom learning, and extracurricular activities at school and in the community. If conditions permit, look for opportunities to work part-time, go for an internship, or organize and manage an activity yourself.

 10. Always keep an open mind

When studying abroad, your mind will certainly be exposed to new things. Always keep an open mind, curious. If the customs, values, and beliefs in the country you are studying are contrary to Vietnam, do not rush to deny it. On the contrary, we should not rush to criticize and have negative thoughts about Vietnam.

I've been abroad long enough to realize that every country has its strengths and weaknesses. To learn the most, let's always understand that what characterizes this world is differences.

Don't go to the country where you are going to study abroad with a head full of prejudices. Instead, open your eyes, relax and breathe in the culture – you will find that many of your assumptions about life abroad are incorrect.

Thank you for reading! 

 The original source of this post is from the blog of Dr. Truong Thanh Mai 

Tags: Studying Abroad Experience