When I thought about my study abroad experience before it happened, I pictured day trips, and weekend trips and lots of traveling. I listed out where all I wanted to go- far more places than I had time or money for. However, I didn’t think about my essays, exams, and projects. During my time abroad, I had a difficult time finding the balance between study and travel. I am not sure why I didn’t think about my classwork before hand but there is definitely a way to balance both of these priorities. Here are my tips for going to a lot of places AND keeping up with classes.
Take advantage of your weekdays. Although you will be tired from your last weekend trip, it is so worth it to push through and get all your schoolwork done during the week. That way you don’t have to worry about any of it during the weekends when you are traveling.
Use train times as study times. Of course you need to be aware so you don’t miss your stop, but trains can be a perfect opportunity to get some work done. If you have to read a book for class, bring it with you! Write a rough draft of your essay or start studying for an exam. Using your time on the trains will make studying a breeze later on.
Go to the places you are learning about. For example, I took a Dutch Art History class; so going to different museums in the Netherlands really helped reinforce my knowledge while also getting to travel around! This works especially well when you are traveling with other people in your class.
If you don’t have room in your weekend backpack to bring along school supplies, I suggest taking pictures on your phone! You can screenshot readings for class, or take notes on your phone for later studying.
When you choose to study more than enjoy the experience, you will waste the time you have to explore different countries. But if you blow off classes for travel, then you will just be stressed and you will lose the course credits- not worth it. Studying abroad is always a great learning experience, but it will be even better if you work to find a good balance between study and travel. Making sure that one does not outweigh the other will make for the experience of a lifetime!