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Study abroad tips for before, during your travel experience

College is a great time to study abroad, particularly during your sophomore or junior year. Although it may seem daunting to figure out the logistics of a study abroad experience, it’s easier to find your footing if you come prepared. 

Whether you’re simply just interested in studying abroad or are about to venture to a new country, don’t fret. Here is a list of tips to help you before and during your time abroad:

Do your research ahead of time

Before applying for study abroad experiences, you must research ahead of time. You should research countries and experiences offered through Ohio University at least three to four months in advance. You can find this information through the Office of Global Opportunities, or OGO, on its website or in person. 

The office is located at 15 Park Place and you can schedule in-person or online appointments ahead of time by contacting the office’s email or calling 740-593-4583. You can also attend drop-in advising Monday through Friday from 1-5 p.m. in Baker University Center 417. At these meetings, you can talk to OGO staff about the experiences you’re interested in and receive advice on financial planning and the application process.

Talk to those you know who have studied abroad

Talking to peers who have already studied abroad can ease your nerves about going to a new place. People with this experience can help you pick the right places and programs to invest your time in. You can also keep in touch with them and send updates about your time abroad. Usually, the first few weeks are stressful and overwhelming, and having someone to talk to about these feelings can allow you to normalize them as part of your experience.

Make sure your course requirements align with your exchange university

Studying abroad may not be worth the money and time if your course requirements cannot be met at the exchange university you plan on going to. Therefore, you need to ensure the course requirements you still need to complete in Athens can be matched with the courses you sign up for abroad.

If your course requirements are not met, you may have to take extra time once you return home to complete those classes. This could lead to more credit hours or an extra semester at OU. Before committing to a study abroad experience, meet with your OU academic adviser.

Do not force friendships right away

When I first arrived at my exchange university, I felt like I needed to make friends instantly, and it only added more stress to my first few weeks abroad. Eventually, I learned that making friends abroad is no different than making friends back home; just talk to people and be willing to initiate conversation.

Try to talk to a few people at the orientation events or in classes. Slowly but surely, you’ll build friendships. Forcing relationships while studying abroad can also make people uncomfortable, so exercise patience rather than rushing into new situations with new people.

Take advantage of traveling

Travel as much as possible, as you may not have as much time once you graduate. You can find cheap trains, buses and flights to most places in Europe on websites like Ryanair and easyJet, and it truly has made my study abroad experience even more exciting.

Immersing yourself in other cultures is also extremely important during this phase of your life, and you should at least try to go to one or two new places if it fits your budget. You can even venture into other cities within the country you are studying abroad, which is equally as meaningful.


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