Studying abroad is an experience that is highly encouraged among college students. College is the ideal time to spend a month or even longer in a different country, because college students have fewer obligations and much more free time than graduates. Georgia Southern University offers several study abroad programs for different departments and majors. No matter what study abroad trip you go on, there are many ways to make the most of your time in an unfamiliar country.
1. Familiarize yourself with the language and culture
You don’t need to be fluent in the foreign language, but it will definitely be helpful to know the basics.
[quote]Mark Welford, a Georgia Southern professor who goes on the study abroad trips to India and the Himalayas, said, “learn the basics of any language and try using the local’s language before resorting to English.”[/quote]
You should at least know how to introduce yourself, say yes and no, and say please and thank you. This simple understanding will go a long way.
2. Try all of the authentic foods
When you go to a new country, you might be surprised to discover that America’s versions of the foods are much different from the authentic varieties. Don’t let this stop you from tasting all of the authentic dishes. The flavor and freshness will enlighten you.
3. Avoid the popular, touristy areas
This is the best way for you to ensure that you are getting the fullest experience while saving your money. “Try to resist eating in
American-themed restaurants like Planet Hollywood. They are expensive and crap,” Welford said. When you are in a big city, like Rome or Paris, avoid the tourist traps in the main squares. Instead, venture off into the back roads and alleys and you will find local treasures with the best foods and prices.
4. Figure out how to navigate the area
This is extremely important. You never want to look like a lost tourist, because you will look vulnerable and easy to manipulate. So, learn how the train system works. Learn how to buy a train ticket and catch a taxi. This way, if you get lost, you always have a back-up plan.
5. Branch out
It is okay to keep in touch with your family and friends back home, but don’t let that get in the way of opportunities to meet and interact with new individuals. “Cut the umbilical cord. This is your time to develop away from over-bearing friends and relatives,” Welford said. Make friends with new people from other schools that are on the same program as you. You will become closer than you could imagine with the people you travel with.