5 Things They DON’T Tell You About Studying Abroad

Author Bio: Danielle Nolan is a Business Administration Major at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. She shares her insights on all the things you may NOT be told before studying abroad.

 

When you decide to study abroad, you may be told to expect they’ll be the best days of your life, to expect that you’ll travel, explore, and always have fun.

Life at Home Doesn’t Stop

But when you study abroad, they don’t tell you how you’ll be envious of your friends continuing their lives without you. They don’t tell you how life back home in the United States doesn’t stop, how your friends will still get engaged, how your family will still celebrate the holidays, and how friends can still pass away. They won’t tell you how the grading system is completely different and you’re bound to fail your first assignment easing into it. They don’t tell you how as you’re driving down the road experiencing amazing experiences, you’ll miss your mom and wish she was there with you to experience it. You don’t hear about how you missed your favorite charity event that you’ve attended for six years in a row, or how your favorite sports team made it to the finals.

You’ll Discover Your Own Strength

They don’t tell you when you go to a country 9,671 miles away, you discover strength and courage within you that you’ve never known you’ve had.

You grow and blossom into a whole new adult who has to make decisions by yourself, and how you learn it’s okay to say “No.”

They won’t tell you how when you’re abroad, the majority of what you’ll learn isn’t just in the classroom, but through life experiences.

You’ll Meet New Wildlife

They won’t tell you how you get to learn to surf, climb a rainforest, see an Orangutan, touch elephants, or see kangaroos in nature hop across the road. They won’t tell you how you’ll get to hold a koala and learn it’s not a bear.

You’ll Go on Adventures with New Friends

They won’t tell you that, on the gloomiest of days, you’ll go on adventures, hike a mountain, go through a rainforest, or experience the rainbows on a beach. They won’t tell you how you discover the meaning of pure happiness as you run in the rain across a beach with your new best friends as it decides to rain on the sunniest of days, and how you will miss those days the most.  

You Won’t Regret It

When you look back at the four months that just happened in the blink of an eye, everything seems worth it. You wouldn’t change any minute of it because it made you who you are in this moment. You will look back, and failing your first paper won’t seem so bad. You will remember sitting on the beach, eating Tim Tams with your best friend and watching the sunset. You will think of completely amazing views as you stand on the top of a beautiful mountain, surrounded by flowers and waterfalls.

They won’t tell you that you’ll have grown so much, how you’ve overcome many challenges, and the little things don’t seem to be such an issue anymore. They won’t tell you that you’ll be a completely more independent person.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Danielle spent Spring 2018 in our Semester on the Gold Coast program at Bond University in Queensland, Australia, with her (now) fiancé. Check out their engagement video!   


CISabroad nominated for two GoAbroad.com Innovation Awards

Above: Think we were a little excited? CISabroad celebrates receiving the People’s Choice award at NAFSA 2017.

April 26, 2018

It seems like yesterday that we were jumping with joy at receiving GoAbroad.com’s People’s Choice Award at their NAFSA reception last year. Now, NAFSA 2018 is rapidly approaching and there’s a new round of Innovation Awards ready to “acknowledge institutions, organizations, and individuals moving the field forward, and commend leaders in the community for their efforts to go beyond the conventional.”

CISabroad is proud to be nominated as finalists in two GoAbroad.com Innovation Award categories this year: Innovation in Marketing and Digital Media & Innovation in Diversity.

Our core values are: passion, fun, cultural awareness, being helpful, change & growth, teamwork, and good ideas. We’re thankful for the Innovation Awards because they feed our passion for continuing to grow and change in ways that will best support our partners, have fun working on new projects together, and encourage us to reward our colleagues’ good ideas. Learn more about our initiatives below!

Innovation in Marketing and Digital Media

Faculty Study Abroad Certification Series – Partnership with University of South Carolina

CISabroad partnered with the University of South Carolina to offer a five-part online and on-campus workshop series preparing faculty to take their classroom abroad. Faculty members and staff learned from their peers and other experts in the education abroad field about best practices and how to align campus resources with their academic goals.  Faculty and staff who attended 4 out of 5 sessions were awarded a grant to award to one (or several) students studying abroad on a CISabroad custom, intern, or study abroad program!

Do you have an innovative idea to try out on campus? We can help. Contact your University Relations Representative with ideas or questions — we’d love to partner with you to help you achieve your goals!

Innovation in Diversity

CISabroad recently created the Diversity Audit Tool, a resource to assist an organization or institution with measuring diversity in outreach materials in order to connect with students from underrepresented groups, such as low socioeconomic status, first-generation, ethnic background, religious background, LGBTQIA+ identities, and people with different physical abilities.

The overwhelming majority of Generation Z (those who are currently in college) value a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and social justice – no matter their own personal identities. They are also savvier than any other generation when it comes to sensing authenticity in advertising. When attempting to recruit traditionally underrepresented groups, international educators must first look at their marketing materials. Are we highlighting authentic diversity within our materials or simply using stock photos to check the “diversity box”?

Learn more and check out our Diversity Audit Tool here!

We’d love to hear from you! Please reach out to Candace Matta, VP of University Relations for questions or ideas on how we might be able to collaborate.


“Know Yourself, Love Yourself”: Self Care in Thailand

Author: Ben Beaty, Semester in Thailand, Spring 2018

Hello! My name is Ben, and since studying abroad, I have gone through difficulties, but I have conquered them and ultimately become more comfortable with myself, feeling encouraged and empowered.

Here is my story:

The first two weeks of my trip were the forming and storming stages; hundreds of visiting and exchange students from around the world converge on one place and start building relationships, friendships to last lifetimes.

These two weeks were difficult for me. Friendships that last a lifetime? That is daunting.

I had just traveled to the other side of the globe by myself and needed some time to decompress. As an introvert, I wanted to journal, to watch a movie, to get away, but I also knew that these were crucial weeks. These weeks can define how my experience will go.

So I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I was hanging out with dozens of different people 24/7 – during meals, in between classes, going on daytrips – you name it, and I had a buddy with me. I wanted to make sure that I had a great group of friends for the next four months.

But constantly being with people tires me – that is the nature of an introvert. Add to that the chaos of each day with no set schedule the first two weeks, and I started to break down. There were points when I actually considered boarding the next flight home.

It was at this point when I realized that I was not keeping my mental and emotional health in check. I have a set schedule at home; I have a great group of friends that I hang with regularly; I have a supportive family that I keep in touch with normally. But I did not notice these factors until two weeks in, when I was worn and ready to leave. Once I pinpointed the factors, I was able to work on them.

As classes started, I began a set schedule. Once past the storming phase and into the norming phase, I had made friends; in fact, we still travel together now! I began talking with all my family back home multiple times per week, and they showered me with support and love.

Even though I still do not have set weekly schedule, I know what to expect from each day beforehand. And even though my new friends are not my friends from home, they are incredible, my support system to hug and love on while away, and we get to know each other better every day. And even though my family is twelve hours behind me, I still manage to talk with them at least once a week.

So yes, life here is far from perfect, despite what my Instagram would shout. But I am always acclimating, always in a state of flux and flexibility – because that is study abroad.

I would not have it any other way; studying abroad in Thailand is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

To learn more about Ben’s experience with CISabroad in Thailand, check out his travel blog.


5 Lessons from Studying Abroad in London – Westminster

Author: Giovanna Cottone, Semester in London – University of Westminster Fall ’17

If you’re reading this, you are probably about to embark on a trip of a lifetime, or if you’re me, you are very nostalgic and reminiscent on your time abroad. It has been almost three months since I returned from London and I am writing this to provide some words of encouragement and some friendly advice that could potentially help you regarding your future travels. Bon Voyage!

Say YES  to every adventure!

It may just be one word, but it is the best possible way to open ourselves up to new and endless experiences. To truly live life, you have to try new things and be open to adventures. Being in a different country from what we are typically used to and what we are most comfortable with, it allows us to truly step outside of our comfort zone and forces us to do things we wouldn’t typically do. Each adventure, whether you enjoy it or not, will help you grow as an individual and will give you good stories to tell. There are some things you can’t do or see in America, and by going abroad you have that chance to experience it. You never know when you’re going to make it back across the globe, so make it worthwhile!

Culture shock is a REAL thing!

When studying in London, I figured I had nothing to worry about given that the U.K is one of the most similar European countries when in comparison to the United States. People in London spoke English, they dressed similar, acted similar, have similar hobbies, and as strange as it sounds, the similarities are what made the adjustments so difficult for me. The slight similarities made me want everything to feel like just how it would back in the states, easy. Along with these similarities came the language barrier, the transportation systems, cars driving on the opposite sides of the road, history on every street, the currency exchange rates, and cultural norms. When first getting to your destination, it can be very overwhelming, but it’s nothing time can’t fix. Persevering and accepting these cultural differences is what makes your abroad experience so memorable. We are choosing to go and temporarily live in a new place, and one of those reasons are to become aware and learn how people in other parts of the world live. Culture shock can be frustrating when first exposed to it, but at the same time we are living and learning in a completely different world than we are used to, and that is amazing.

It is okay to get lost.
Sometimes getting lost leads to the most beautiful places….

The best advice I could possibly give is to not have a set plan. Of course there are major tourist attractions that are at the top of our list of places to see and that is okay! But don’t plan out your days to the tee. The big attractions are surreal to see, but so are the little nooks and crannies of places that seem so silent and subtle compared to the bigger and more popular places. I would find myself walking around aimlessly for hours, not having an ending destination. Get lost, ride the metro until you feel like getting off, climb a mountain, walk around a park, talk to a street performer, the opportunities are truly endless. By planning and scheduling, it can make you miss out on the precious moments that surround you. This is truly how you see so much.

Don’t be afraid to try and learn new things!

Immerse yourself in the culture that surrounds you. In London, it seems like every single street has a major part of history attached to it. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, Kensington Palace, the changing of the guard, the list could go on. Go to museums, galleries, and tours. I took a day to learn the entire underground tube and bus system (or at least I tried), because I was so intrigued by it for some reason. Try foods you have never tried before, because (I guarantee you) you’re not going to be eating American food. Get pasta and gelato in Italy, eat baguettes and croissants in Paris, become apart of their culture and lifestyle while you can, because it’s only temporary!

Document your time abroad.

Document your trip. Whether that’s through pictures or writing in a journal, I can guarantee you that you will be so thankful that you did. I bought a polaroid specifically for my trip and I carried it around with me almost everywhere I went. I brought a small book/journal and every time I snapped a picture, I pasted it in this book with the location and date of where and when it was taken. At the end of my trip, I had pages upon pages of pictures lined up. Pictures taken on your phone are memorable as well, but by doing something like this you can share it with friends and family so they can truly get a grasp of what you were doing during your time abroad. And it will definitely be bittersweet to pull it out and reminisce from time to time!

 

Applications for Fall 2018 in London at the University of Westminster open until April 15th!!


CISabroad Green Scholarship: Studying New Zealand Songbirds

Lisa M. was awarded CISabroad’s Green Scholarships for her semester in New Zealand. She took this opportunity to further her interest in New Zealand’s unique songbirds.


One of the first things I heard about as an environmental science student in New Zealand was the unique but somewhat problematic ecological history of the country. New Zealand’s evolutionary history of long isolation left it with a high density of species that are found nowhere else on the planet. Some of the most charismatic of the local species are New Zealand songbirds, who play an important role in the ecology of the New Zealand bush.  Me being interested in these birds, put up a birdfeeder in my garden after moving in to my new Wellington home. To my dismay, European sparrows overran my feeder, outcompeting local species. It turns out that when Europeans moved into Aotearoa, they brought with them many plants and animals that competed with native species.  Already many New Zealand species have gone extinct or been drastically threatened by European invaders.

After seeing this problem first hand, I decided to approach my back-yard dilemma scientifically.  In order to attract more native birds, and fewer sparrows, I wanted to design a better birdfeeder.   So I set up an experiment! I tested several different coloured feeders to see which would attract the fewest sparrows.  Over several weeks, I observed the traffic at my feeders, which made for many a pleasant morning, by the way.  As it turns out, sparrows don’t really like red.  There were significantly fewer sparrows on my red feeder than any other, but I did see a few local species like tui, fantail, and bellbirds. Success! After my study I removed all but the red feeder and was happy to find I was attracting more of the unique birds I traveled to see. I could also sleep happy at night knowing I was doing something to promote some very special New Zealand species.

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5 Ways to Pay for Study Abroad

by Jenn Weisgerber, CISabroad Scholarship Team

Saving money can be the worst! Especially when it’s a big-ticket item, because it just takes so dang long to reach that large milestone. Figuring out how to pay for study abroad can definitely feel overwhelming, but don’t worry! We’re here with 5 ways to pay for your study abroad experience that will get you saving in no time.

1. Make the most of your financial aid and scholarships.

The earlier you start planning in this area, the better. In most cases, your financial aid can be used to pay for your program costs. We believe that study and intern abroad opportunities are for EVERYONE, so we work hard to stay one of the most affordable providers out there – without sacrificing the experiences abroad we know you want. CISabroad offers six different scholarships multiple times a year. To make the most of scholarships, though, cast a wider net – earn a Gilman, Golden Key, or Diversity Abroad award, and CISabroad will add a bonus grant!

2. Get high-tech with your saving tactics.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Professor Frink

Find it really challenging to save cold, hard cash to pay for study abroad? Save a few pennies at a time with an app that rounds up routine bank transactions to a threshold you set and holds the money in a separate account until you’re ready for it. There are quite a few new apps out there that can help you save – check out Qapital, Unsplurge, or Digit. Also check out this list of powerful money-saving apps from NerdWallet.

3. Hold the biggest tag sale ever.

Pay for Study Abroad_GIF_Tag Sale

Roll up your sleeves over the summer and ask your family and friends if they’d be willing to donate their finest vintage finds and in-demand collectibles — or whatever is taking up space in their basement! You’d be surprised at how much cash a well-publicized tag sale (or rummage sale, depending on where you live) can bring in to help you pay for study abroad, especially if you schedule it during a weekend with popular events in your community. List it online, in the newspaper (yes, that old thing!), and flier around town responsibly.

4. Look to your networks for support.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_To Cash Flow

Yes, we’re talking about crowdfunding, but you can do it in a way that doesn’t come off entitled or makes you go on Shark Tank. How? Don’t blast it all over social media (well, maybe around your birthday), but instead email links individually to friends and family, asking them to contribute to your time abroad in lieu of birthday or other presents throughout the year. Show the return on their investment – send them links to the CISabroad program you’re interested in and let them know how this opportunity fits into your life goals. Although you’ll definitely make memories to last a lifetime, it’s more than just a fun summer – you’ll now be a part of the 10% of U.S. college students who study abroad.

5. Roll up those sleeves – and tighten that wallet.

Pay for Study Abroad GIF_Big Wallet

These two may not be the answers at the top of your list, but it’s important to be invested in your own life – literally. Look for a part-time job (or second one) during holiday break, spring break, or the summer that will allow you to stash away even more money. And the hardest part? Changing your behavior in order to save – but it feels good to look out for your future self. Bypassing that venti latte every day or that weekly night out with friends can translate into an extended stay abroad, experiential add-ons like our Explore Europe weekends, and if you’re anything like us, even more delicious food while you’re abroad!

Finally, remember that every penny counts – literally. Combine a few different fundraising tactics, and before you know it, you’ll see that savings account rise. Not only will your time abroad be a transformative experience, you’ll feel proud that you contributed so much to getting yourself there.

Pay for Study Abroad Gif_Worked so hard for this

Still worried about if you can pay for study abroad or an internship abroad? Trust us, it’s totally within your reach. Any of our CISabroad advisors (Chris, Brittany G, Pat, or Brittany D) would love to talk to you about affordable options that work for your major, as well as share more pro tips. Reach them via email, chat, or go old-school with the phone at 1-877-617-9090.

Not ready to talk yet? Watch these tips on Traveling on a Budget from CISabroad alumni Debra Castro, who interned abroad in Barcelona, Spain.


DID YOU KNOW? Use the code EARLYSUMMER on your program application by Feb. 1 and save $100 on ANY CISabroad Summer 2018 program. #smartsaver


Top 10 Reasons to Intern Abroad

Every year, more than 25,000 U.S. students intern abroad.

Why should you join them? Because nothing beats real-world experience! Not to mention these Top 10 Reasons to Intern Abroad…

1. Impress employers with a resume filled with real-world experience.
Firstly, not only will you stand apart from other job-seekers on paper, you’ll also be memorable in an interview. Make sure to explain through storytelling how your internship abroad prepared you for challenging work situations.

2. Build a lasting network of international colleagues and friends.
Interning abroad for a semester or summer is a great start to an international professional network. Plus, who doesn’t love having friends across the globe?

3. Stack up academic credits, all while saving money.
It’s true – for many programs, selecting an intern abroad option for credit can often COST LESS than the semester sticker price for the same location! Living abroad, stacking up work experience, AND earning credits at the same time? Mind blown. (Check out CISabroad.com/interncredit for more information. Our partner, Plymouth State University, offers credits in most majors.)

Lauren Kelly, a Marketing Major at USC Columbia, participated in CISabroad’s Intern in Barcelona program in Summer 2016.

4. Try your career before you dive into it.
Choosing to intern abroad in your field of interest allows you to really see what the day-to-day is like for the career you have in mind. And who knows? You might find the (different) career of your dreams while abroad! Many students tell us that living abroad helped them sort out what they truly wanted to do with their lives.

5. Leap outside your comfort zone.
It may sound cliché, but this is another time-tested truth bomb! Pushing yourself to experience new cultures, different ways of living, and environments different from what you’re used to is a positive way to break out of your (too?) comfortable routine.

6. Boost your professional chops in the workplace.
You’ll start that first job after college leaps and bounds ahead of your peers – already having navigated the ins and outs of the professional workplace setting.

Intern in New Zealand - Summer 2016
Ali Mowers, a Communications Major at Shippensburg University, completed CISabroad’s Intern in New Zealand program during Summer 2016.

7. Learn a new language – including workplace lingo.
Challenging yourself to intern abroad offers something you’ll don’t often get in the U.S. – an opportunity to learn and practice a foreign language. But don’t worry! Most of our internship placements are in English-speaking workplaces, so you’ll have a lot of opportunities to learn from your new colleagues.

8. Get the real scoop from locals on the best places to visit.
Not only do you get to live abroad while you intern, but with CISabroad, you’ll also live like a local. Our well-loved site directors make sure to show you where the locals shop, eat, and play. By the time you come home, you’ll be the one giving recommendations!

9. Become a more confident, self-aware, and independent YOU.
Returning students tell us some of the most lasting effects of their intern abroad experience are in the realm of self-growth. From the surge of confidence that comes from independence to the reflection that meeting people from all over the globe spurs, one thing’s for sure – you won’t be the same.

Intern in Argentina - Summer 2017
Colin Murphy, a Telecommunications Major at Youngstown State University, spent Summer 2017 in CISabroad’s Intern in Argentina program.

10. Lastly – make unforgettable memories and have the time of your life!
Forget the hundreds of photos you’ll take, the blog you’ll try to remember to update, the mementos you tuck away for home. After interning abroad, you will have the endless gift of closing your eyes and being transported. Back to a place that taught you about yourself in ways you never thought possible, helped you become a more engaged global citizen, and opened many professional doors!

Did any of these 10 reasons inspire you to intern abroad? Our helpful CISabroad advisors are ready when you are to talk more about your goals and how an internship abroad can prepare you for them. Reach them by chat or email anytime.

Ready to learn more about CISabroad’s internships, including example placements and our application process? Check out our Internships Abroad digital resource or browse programs at CISabroad.com.


DID YOU KNOW?
You (yes, you!) can save $250 on an internship abroad program with CISabroad! Simply use the promo codes listed below on your application. Talk to an advisor for more info.


QUIZ! What kind of Global Traveler are you?

Find out what kind of global traveler you are!

Although you’ll be faced with many big decisions in life, making the choice to study or intern abroad is definitely one you should say YES to!

Because we’ve helped so many students study and intern abroad, we know it can be an overwhelming process. There are academic considerations, financial aid to line up, as well as making sure the program offers the experiences and inclusions you’re looking for. Having access to an advisor (either through CISabroad or on your university campus) can be a big help as you narrow down your choices.


But let’s get to the real reason why you’re here: to find out just which kind of global traveler you are.

Which of the statements below sounds most like you? Don’t be surprised if the study or intern abroad program of your dreams is somewhere you never thought of going. A huge part of exploration is being open to where the journey takes you. Prepare to find the program of your dreams, future wanderer!

CISabroad Best Value ProgramsYou want the best bang for your buck.

And why wouldn’t you? Studying or interning abroad is a huge investment — in your future. That said, you still want to make sure you’re making the most of your experience.

CISabroad’s Best Value programs offer an incredible value and are packed with everything you could want to have an action-packed, transformative experience abroad and more, including a great cost of living, the most potential for credits, the most cultural immersion activities, the most travel, and the best excursions!


 CISabroad Hot Destinations programsYou have your pulse on the next big thing.

Forget being in the loop – you ARE the loop. Maybe people ask you where you found out about that cool new app or where you got those shoes.

CISabroad’s Hot Destinations programs offer some of the most exciting destinations around the globe. Programs make this list because they are among our most popular student favorites. In fact, if you’re looking for programs that offer more opportunities for interaction with CISabroad students, look no further!


CISabroad Hot Destination ProgramsYou want to take the “road less traveled.”

Not one to follow the crowd, you don’t want the “typical” study abroad experience – you feel the push of wanderlust and want to explore parts of the globe most unlike our own.

Maybe you want to study or intern abroad in a country you may not have considered at first. If you’re looking for tried and true programs that fly under the radar, CISabroad’s Off the Beaten Path programs are for you.


CISabroad.com Staff Picks programsYou like suggestions!

Open to just about anything, you’re curious what others would recommend and are looking for some ideas to get started.

Check out some of CISabroad’s Staff Picks programs — from our leadership to our University Relations team, we’re happy to give personal recommendations!

Now that you know what kind of global traveler you are, you have some ideas of where you can have a transformative study or intern abroad experience. So what’s stopping you? We want to hear your questions!

Take the next step – reach out to our helpful advisors over email, chat, or phone – 877.617.9090. Browse our newest catalog online. If you know which program you’re interested in, get ahead of the game and start your application at CISabroad.com.


BLOG BONUS: Take a ghoulish $250 off ANY 2018 study or intern abroad program through Oct. 31 with the promo code TRIPORTREAT on your application! Check out our unforgettably spoopy video and share with your friends.   


Top 10 Ways to OWN Your Study Abroad Experience

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

CISabroad blogger Tasha Ward participated in CISabroad’s Semester in Australia – University of Sydney study abroad program during Spring 2017. An Economics major at Clemson University, Tasha shares 10 strategies to help you take charge of your study or intern abroad experience.


So I’m sitting here, midterms officially behind me, and have realized that I am, unfortunately, halfway through my semester abroad. I’ve booked my flight home, made plans for a bit of a summer job, and am starting to think about my senior year of college back in the states. But hold on – halfway finished means I still have as much time ahead of me as I do behind me and that is EXCITING. What isn’t exciting is how long it took me to figure out the whole study abroad adventure thing! Long as it took to realize, here’s what I’ve learned, somehow compacted into a short “top 10” list, and what will definitely be the guidelines I live by for the rest of my time here!

1. Don’t underestimate your food budget.

I came here so prepared with ideas of how I would budget and “save” money during my time abroad. One of which was saying, aside from enjoying the local cuisine every once in a while, that I would cook at home for myself a majority of the time. Smart…right? Wrong! First of all, going out to eat was the most common activity to do with all the new people I was meeting in the first couple months of being abroad. It was the most convenient way to get to know people AND eat some bomb food at the same time. Which leads me to my next point: THERE IS SO MUCH GOOD FOOD TO TRY. It’s hard to grill yourself a chicken breast with Brussels sprouts at home when you just know there’s some funky Thai restaurant with a live jazz band waiting for you to explore. So, if anything, give yourself a food budget and then double it…you’ll thank me later. 🙂

2. Travel the world mindfully.

Here’s an easy one that won’t take much convincing! You have to take advantage of where you are and go to places you might not have the chance to see again. These will be your fondest memories, favorite pictures, and best stories. Pro tip: Planning for travel is way more difficult than anticipated without the parents figuring out all of the logistics. Don’t be afraid to be the responsible one who makes the plans and, conversely, don’t be the one who doesn’t thank the person who does all the trip planning because it is hard work!

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

3. Remember: there is S-T-U-D-Y in “study abroad.”

It was (no exaggeration) the worst realization when I had to skip going to the beach with friends to study for an exam. I’m in Australia and have to study? It’s definitely not ideal, but extremely necessary. Academics are serious here, requiring serious study time and plenty of preparation for exams and assignments. I only have to “pass,” grade-wise, but it is way more difficult than I imagined. It’s very important to remember this is STUDY abroad and you will actually have to study. I think I heard this one several times before I left, but it didn’t hit me until I had 6 weeks of material to learn the night before an exam…so learn from my mistakes and just stay on top of the material right from the start.

4. Don’t get nervous about finding your “group.”

Everybody is in the same situation as you and wants to make friends who make this experience one to remember. Give everybody a chance, never exclude someone, and always keep the invitations to a day or night out open. You can meet your best friend through the most random connection!

5. Keep in touch with family and friends back home.

While abroad, I realized that my mom and best friends back home were even more amazing than I realized before I left. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of being abroad, but don’t forget about the people who were there when you left and will be there when you get back. Send them a postcard letting them know you’re thinking of them – they’ll love it!

Sydney, Australia

6. Get lost on purpose.

Hop on a train, bus, or even an airplane if you’re feeling extra adventurous – with no destination in mind! There’s so much to see that falls outside of your “Top things to do in Sydney” Google search results. These days can turn into the most memorable and are so worth the brief moments of panic when you realize you have no idea where you are. Disclaimer: Charge your phones entirely and maybe even bring an extra set of clothes.

7. Remember self care while you’re abroad.

Here’s an extra important one. So many people (myself included) expected study abroad to be one giant vacation. True, while it’s basically an endless opportunity for adventure, people need to realize that because you’re spending 6 months abroad, it’s actually living in a new place, not just vacationing there. And when you’re living somewhere, you have to take care of yourself. This means: don’t feel bad about taking a day or two to do your laundry, go to the grocery store, tidy up your room, and wash your sheets. These things keep you grounded, keep you human, keep you realizing that you’re an adult with responsibilities. It’s important to keep track of these things – don’t neglect them!

8. Forget your expectations.

My goodness, this one is vital. Seriously. Sure, go into your study abroad ready for the time of your life. It definitely will be, but probably not in the way you expected. I can, without hesitation, say that I didn’t expect to explore New Zealand completely by myself (seeing as I came on study abroad with a friend from home), or have a moment where I thought I needed to go home…but I did. If you go into this experience with expectations, there is room to be let down if they don’t go exactly as planned. And with so many variables in the mix, there will be times where things go the exact opposite way of what was planned. Don’t let this throw you off or make you uncomfortable. Learn to roll with the unexpected and you’ll enjoy yourself much more.

Tasha Ward, Semester in Australia - University of Sydney, Spring 2017

9. Take time to know yourself.

Here it is guys, the most corny (but most relevant) piece of advice I can give. During your time abroad, you’ll find yourself in an innumerable amount of unfamiliar situations: friendships will be tested, situations will be uncomfortable, and difficult decisions will have to be made. During all of this, you’ll get to do something so exciting and genuine, you may not even realize it’s happening. You will get the chance to truly know yourself – who you are, the type of people you like (and don’t like), the situations that make you uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and stressed, but also the situations that invoke genuine joy and self-satisfaction.

10. Continue your learning when you get home.

Studying abroad is a remarkable thing. We all go to unique places, meet tons of different people, learn a vast array of life lessons, but we all end up having a similar experience. I think we all become a more pure version of ourselves with a deeper understanding of what it means to be an individual, and a more complete appreciation of all the opportunities that have been made available to us in our lives.

It’s important to continue on with wherever our lives take us, putting into practice what we’ve learned during our time abroad. I don’t want to go back to living the sheltered life I’ve lived, so I hope to continue learning, reflecting, and growing as I go through life, applying what I’ve learned on this amazing study abroad journey. Challenge yourself to take what you’ve learned and develop it, rather than returning to your normal routine back home.


Curious about what a semester in Australia with CISabroad is like? Check out our Australia programs (like the one Tasha experienced) at cisabroad.com/australia.


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