By Sara Wiseman
I want to inspire you all to make your time abroad phenomenal. And so, I’ll begin this post with a bit of poetry from one of this generation’s greats.
Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
Granted, the poet formally known as Marshall Mathers was probably talking about the opportunity to escape the drug-infested streets of Detroit but we can spin his message in any direction.
What Shady’s gospel can teach us is that any student studying abroad needs to make the most of their experience. After all, you only get one shot. Do not miss your chance to blow.
First off, when studying abroad you’ll be tossed in with a wide array of characters from all over the world. This is an awesome thing! I suggest cutting to the chase and letting your freak flag fly. I can guarantee that everyone is just as weird as you and accelerating the barrier dropping process can get you some close friends, fast.
If you came here with a gaggle of your friends, cut the cord. A mistake students abroad often make is that they literally transport their comfort zone to a foreign country. Drinking vino and taking selfies with your friends is awesome, it’s a favorite past time. But, it’s also why Panama City Beach was created.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure your friends are awesome. But isn’t one of the major points of studying abroad to grow through cultural immersion and vulnerability? Vulnerability can be a great thing.
Secondly, even if you aren’t surrounded by a hoard of symbol-flashing sisters, it’s important to remember that this isn’t America. This sounds like an obvious and idiotic thing to say but, seriously. Your study abroad experience will be much more enjoyable if you accept a new culture.
Students should also expand their drinking horizons. I know there are some cool American bars and it’s really comfortable there with all of your new friends but you should bounce and find some new, unique hangouts. Organize a night to go to an Italian aperitivo or go to your favorite piazza with a bottle of wine and good company.
Thirdly, while drinking and partying can easily become a staple of your study abroad career, don’t let it. Take the time to appreciate the unique beauty of your abroad city. Don’t let tourist spots define it and make sure to take advantage of the amazing parks and lookouts that may be surrounding you.
And (although it may sound stupid) study abroad students should keep a journal of some kind. You can start each entry with “Dear Diary” or bust out the old Password Journal if you want. The point is, looking back,you might not have the sharpest memory of dates, names and places. A nice reference resource can help you reflect fondly.
I know a lot of this seems painfully obvious and could easily be followed with the run-of-the-mill “There’s no I in team” or some shit. But sometimes it just takes a second for students to honestly think about the reasons they studied abroad and how they can get the most out of it. Remember the wise words of Mister Mathers because this may be your only opportunity to make an experience abroad amazing. Yo.
Lose yourself abroad