10. Not going for a full semester
Studying abroad for a few weeks is better than not studying abroad at all, but to get the full effect you should go for at least a semester. You’ll become more familiar with the culture, get a better grasp of the language, have more opportunities to travel—the benefits are endless.
9. Not traveling while abroad
If you’re studying abroad in Germany, why not take a weekend trip to France? It may be a while before you revisit your study abroad destination, so take the opportunity to travel to nearby countries or cities. Of course you should keep your budget in mind – you won’t be able to visit every country in Europe – so choose one or two you’ve been dying to explore.
You’re going to acquire plenty of clothes and souvenirs while abroad, so make sure you leave room in your suitcase! Only pack the essentials; the rest you can buy while abroad if you need to. Packing less will also save you more when it comes to checking bags.
7. Forgetting about your passport
The minute you think you might study abroad, apply for a passport. Even if you change your mind you’ll still have another 10 years to travel before it expires. It can take several months to receive a passport after applying, so get on it. Check to see if your destination requires a Visa or any immunizations as well and take care of that as soon you can.
Once you’ve made a budget, stick with it. You don’t really need five souvenirs for Aunt Jean, nor do you need to spend money going out to eat every night. Be smart with your money. You may be having a great time while abroad, but once you get home you’ll regret spending recklessly.
5. Not budgeting properly
Once you find out which program you’re studying abroad through, start figuring out how much money you’ll need. Here are some questions to think about: How long will you be gone? What’s the exchange rate? How many meals (if any) are included in the cost of the program? Are you traveling while abroad? When it comes to budgeting, always error on the side of having too much money.
4. Not balancing work with play
Balance is key when it comes to studying abroad. For the studious types, this means getting your nose out of the books every once in a while and exploring! Don’t stress out too much about the grade; you’re there for a hands-on learning experience. For the fun-loving types, this means not blowing off assignments to hit the night clubs. Don’t forget that you’re studying abroad, not vacationing abroad.
3. Not embracing local culture
It’s tempting to find a friend from your native country—or at least one who speaks your native language—and cling on to that familiarity. But then what’s the point of being in another country? Take this opportunity to meet locals, try a hobby or sport native to that country, eat new foods, and soak in the culture.
2. Not looking into monetary aid
Studying abroad can be expensive, so why not seek help? Many universities offer stipends to students who apply early. Scholarships are often available, too. Ask your advisor about these opportunities as soon as you decide to study abroad. And don’t forget about loans; a lack in funds shouldn’t prevent you from going abroad.
1. Not using the language
Speaking a secondary language to native speakers is intimidating, but don’t let this stop you from practicing the language. Most people will be patient and respect your attempt. If anyone gives you a hard time just let it slide and keep trying. The only way to learn a new language is to practice it, so take advantage of having so many people to practice with.
If you knew better you would do better is the old saying. Well now you know. So it is up to you to do better.