CISABROAD BLOG · March 20, 2020 · 5 Min Read
5 Things I Learned About Managing Expectations Abroad | Student Blog from Thailand

It’s normal to have expectations before going to a new country. I can say now that traveling around Asia changed my life, but in completely different ways than I expected. Thailand is a place I can call my second home and I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had to grow and learn since being away for almost 4 months. I want to share with you 5 expectations I had going into my trip and how I managed those expectations abroad.

Managing expectations abroad blog photo of the bow of a boat in the water as it approaches steep cliff sides.

Coming to Thailand I thought I would…

  1. Master the language of Thai.
  2. Not gain any weight, (being real with you guys.)
  3. Spend every day sightseeing, adventuring, and exploring.
  4. Manage my money easily.
  5. Be alone when I traveled and it wouldn’t be easy to make friends.

Rest assured, half of these turned into positive ones!

#1 Mastering the Thai Language

Although it’s my fault for not taking a Thai language course, I did learn some of the language. However, I had definitely expected that I would be able to speak complete sentences. I guess there’s always room for improvement if I ever decide to go back!

#2 Not Gaining Weight

A lot of my family thought I would lose weight coming to Asia because of the healthiness of the food compared to the greasy food in the United States…that was not the case. There are so many amazing options when coming to Thailand, but the desserts are what get you! When you are traveling a lot, there are so many food options you won’t have back home, so better try them now before it’s too late!

Managing expectations abroad blog photo of a cut up mango and sweet sticky rice. Credit: Kathryn Fraher, Semester in Thailand Spring 2018.

Check out this Ultimate Thailand Dessert Guide.

#3 Adventure, Exploring, and Sightseeing Every Day!

OK, this one is absolutely true, because I made it a point to see as much as possible during my trip! Southeast Asia is filled with jungles, rice terraces, mountains, and beautiful architecture and sculptures filled with cultures from all over. Yes, you have to go to school on a weekly basis, but after that…travel, travel, travel! Don’t miss out on a thing.

Managing expectations abroad blog photo of a foggy landscape with a hot air balloon floating above it.

“Being abroad has given me more independence and freedom than I could have ever thought.”

#4 Managing Your Money

I really thought that managing my money would be easy, but, let me tell you, my expectations for this went out the door. I wanted to buy everything and see everything! Coming to any place when studying abroad, you have to use your money wisely. Otherwise, by the end of your journey, you’ll run out or struggle to manage your money day-to-day.

#5 Making Friends

I was wrong about this one as well. I made friends easily and now I have them for life! Many of them conveniently live close to me, so we’ll all be meeting up at some point, which is more than I could have ever asked for!

Managing expectations abroad blog group photo of Makayla and friends.


In this instance, I had tried to manage my expectations abroad by keeping low expectations. Instead, I had people to go on trips with and made so many memories. Although my trip has come to an end, I’m grateful for these people more than anything else, because they made my study abroad experience something I won’t ever forget. It’s so sad saying goodbye to the people you became so close with in such a short amount of time. Cherish every minute!

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