By: Austin Andes
Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime journey. You get to experience a whole new life for a short amount of time: in my case, four months! All of the amazing people you will get to meet, all of the new foods you will get to try, and all of the new changes you will have to make to live your new life will be the best experience you have had. However, studying in a new continent does hold its challenges. You may face some rough experiences, but in the long run, you will grow as a person and as a student. This blog will have a couple of “do’s” and “don’ts” that will help your experience in a different continent. Hopefully you can get the chance to experience this journey of a lifetime. If you do, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind to enhance your experience abroad!
Starting off, I am Austin Andes. I am a sophomore at Simpson College, and I chose to go on the Chile Abroad trip. I have been here for almost three weeks now, and I am really enjoying my time here! This experience is the first time Simpson has offered this trip to Chile. It has traditionally been in Argentina; however, Simpson switched the trip to Chile. I have never been to Argentina, but I can definitely say that Chile is suc h an amazing place to go to! The people, the food, the culture, and the experiences that I have had here in Chile so far have been
phenomenal. With only three weeks of experience, I only have a couple of do’s and don’ts, but the first month in a different country is the best time to experiment and learn about the country.
The very first thing that I recommend when studying abroad is to try to go outside your comfort zone. If you like to stay in room and watch Netflix all day, or not venture out and explore, you are not going to have as good of a time as you could be. Learn to do things you would not normally do in your country, you are bound to enjoy at least one new thing. The second “do” is to try as many new things as possible. Being in a different country is the time to try new things! It can be food, it could be a new style, it could be going out on weekends when you normally do not. Trying new things is one of the BEST experiences about being in a different country. You may never have these opportunities again, and even if you do, that very first time you try it will be so much better than trying it for the first time after a missed opportunity. Another thing to do while abroad is to make friends with the natives there! Those people know the most about their country, and they can be so helpful. They will help you learn about their culture, learn about their history, and also show you some of the most fun things to do while in that country. Plus, having communication with someone not from your country really helps you grow and expand your cultural awareness. Another “do” is to keep a journal. Having something to look back on after you leave the country will be so nice. You can relive the experiences you had, and never forget them. You will regret it if you do not keep a journal. The final “do” is to focus on having the time of your life. Yes, it is very important to focus on your classes, since you are still a college student, but if you are so focused on school work, you will not get time to experience all that the country has to offer. If you get the opportunity to go somewhere new and exciting, go there! Missing one day of class will not be the end of the world, and who knows, your professor may not even be mad. The professors in other countries understand that you are here to learn and try new things. They will understand. So keep in mind that while you are here to study and learn, having fun is one of the most important parts of studying abroad!
Since being here for three weeks, I have learned several things to not do while you are abroad. The first and most important is do not be afraid to try new things. This goes along with the “do” because it is so crucial to be open-minded when studying abroad. If you are afraid to go out and have conversations with natives, or afraid to try new foods, you will not have the best experience. Your experience can be so much more enhanced if you just try and open up, do not be afraid. The second don’t is to be careful with spending too much money. I know in my first three weeks here, I spent so much money on food and going out with my friends. Yes, it was all worth it, but if you’re spending hundreds of dollars per week, it will add up really quickly. So be careful with having TOO much fun. Saying no to some things may be helpful to your bank account. Another don’t is to not stay in your room the majority of the time: get out, explore new things, see new places, talk to new people, and most importantly experience the country you are in. You can spend all day in your room in your own country, now is not the time to do that. The final don’t is more for safety purposes. Do not go anywhere alone, unless you are sure you know where you are and how to get home. New countries mean that there is a lot about the country you do not know. You may not know if certain neighborhoods are bad or not. You may not know where certain buses go. If you do manage to get in a bad situation, having one or more people with you makes that situation so much easier. So always bring someone with you, whether it be a native friend, or a friend from home, stick with at least one person when exploring your new country.
Keeping these do’s and don’ts in mind will help you with your experience, especially if it is your first time abroad. I am sure I will figure out more as I continue my experience in Chile, however these are kind of the fundamentals of studying abroad. Hopefully you can experience an abroad program like I have, because in only three weeks I have learned so much and had so much fun. Imagine what you can experience in four months, not only three weeks!