Making Study Abroad Goals
Guest Blogger: Caroline Albro
If you’re preparing to study abroad, it’s important to set some personal, academic, and professional goals to make the most of your experience. You may only have a few months to spend in a new environment, so specific, clear, and reasonable goals can help you accomplish your bucket list items. Your goals may be unique to your individual experience and background, depending on the length of your program and your particular interests, but here are some ideas for study abroad goals.
Become more independent.
Many students study abroad with the hope of increasing their independence and successfully living away from the comforts of their home country. While becoming more independent can manifest in a variety of different ways, you can start by doing simple tasks like cooking for yourself, planning your schedule, and budgeting while abroad. You won’t have your parents nearby to keep you accountable, but this newfound freedom is an opportunity to grow and prepare for life after college.
Develop travel skills.
Maybe you’ve never traveled alone before! If so, this is the time to learn important travel skills, like communication, planning, and organization. You could even set a goal to travel to other countries while you’re abroad – often, plane tickets are pretty reasonable between European countries. Take some time to research and organize trips for yourself and your friends.
Learn a language.
Studying abroad is the perfect time to develop your language skills. Living in a country with a different national language than your own can be difficult, but you will catch on quickly to phrases after just a few weeks of hearing them in classes, on public transportation, and in the media. Use this semester to expand upon your previous knowledge of a foreign language, so that you can come back to your home institution with advanced language skills. Or, use this time to pick up a new language – it’s never too late to begin taking courses, especially if you’re living in a country where the language is spoken.
Engage with your community.
Whether you’re living in a home stay or a dorm, make it a priority to engage with your community abroad. You will feel much more comfortable and welcome in your new home when you contribute to the community, through opportunities such as volunteer work, school clubs, or paid work. Additionally, you will gain a greater understanding of your country’s culture when you step outside of your study abroad program’s bubble.
Share your experience.
Be sure to document your experience and consider sharing it with the world. Many study abroad students maintain blogs, but there are a variety of options for students to keep in touch with family and friends back home. I’m considering starting a podcast for my year abroad, and I have some friends who keep me updated through social media accounts or photo albums. And even if you’re not interested in sharing your experience, definitely keep a record of your day-to-day life in some form, such as a gratitude journal or a short diary where you list a few accomplishments from your day. In a few years, you’ll be happy to look back and read about your adventures.
Caroline Albro attends Scripps College in Claremont, California. Originally from the Bay Area, Caroline is ditching her California roots to spend the year studying abroad in London this year. Outside of her academic pursuits in sociology and economics, she enjoys spending time outdoors, reading, and has recently taken up embroidery.