Check out the travel video that goes with this blog: https://vimeo.com/207025110.
A common question people will ask me is, “Why did you want to study abroad?” Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I realized that studying abroad is an amazing opportunity for college students to gain cultural experience while still getting school credits. I knew that I would travel later in life, the only question remaining was when would I be able to travel. Studying abroad provided the answer to that travel question as well as still getting school credits.
Even though I knew I wanted to study abroad, I still was unsure for what to expect while I would be abroad. What would college be like in a new city? What would the people be like? Would the food be extremely different? Is traveling going to easy to adjust to? I tried to ask other people who had been on the same program these questions, but there is a point when it’s better to experience it for yourself than try to find answers. I will try to answer some below, but there is also some fun in the anticipation and uncertainty of studying abroad.
School: will schoolwork be manageable?
Answer: yes. The professors understand that most of the students travel on the weekends, so they will try to help you. That being said, schoolwork isn’t a piece of cake either. The professors also know that students are capable of managing their time throughout the week. This semester I’ve noticed that all students are very focused throughout the week to get all their work done, so they have more time traveling and experience the culture in the weekends.
People abroad: what are the differences?
Of course, the most obvious difference is the language barrier while being abroad. We noticed very quickly that Americans are one of the only cultures that do not speak more than one language fluently. Expect while you are in a store or the city to ask people if they speak English. Some will automatically start speaking to you in a different language, so be prepared to ask them “English?” after they being talking. The other main difference I noticed is that people are not as forward as Americans. When using public transportation, the locals tend to be quieter and keep to themselves more. This difference also makes us stand out a little more. My biggest advice here is to try to blend in by being aware of your surroundings and a little quieter while using public transportation. In addition, many people have stereotypes of Americans (such as asking us if we ride horses in Texas). Although they do not like many personal questions asked to them, they will ask a lot about American culture, including politics and the “typical” American staples.
Last question: should I study abroad?
YES, I am loving my time abroad so far, and cannot believe that my time is just about half way done here. I absolutely love the experience of living in a new city and country. Moving to a new city with people you don’t know can be intimidating at first, but it as absolutely worth it. Everyone is in the same boat, and opens up to make friends throughout the trip—you will also become closer through traveling together. Overall, studying abroad can be intimidating and overwhelming when you first arrive, but you will quickly start to understand their culture and fall in love with the city you’re in.