Things to do while studying abroad: It is not a bad thing to be serious with your studies while studying abroad, when a lot, especially big money, is riding on your success. But being serious doesn’t necessarily mean you give up on the finer things in life or stop having a little bit of fun. In fact, if you cut yourself off from your peers and avoid going out considering it a waste of your time, you are missing out on the opportunity to hone your social skills or for that matter the chance to lap up knowledge that isn’t taught in the classroom; remember the best words of wisdom aren’t always delivered in the classroom, but may come when you least expect them, like during a friendly tug of war with your friends.
And if you didn’t know already, these real-life experiences count, and count immensely in the real and practical world, because companies are looking for the complete package, and not necessarily a nerd who is anathema to cooperation, or barely says or knows a thing outside his profession. A good and intelligent student is one who can distinguish between having a good time to reignite oneself so that he can pursue his studies with renewed gusto and overindulgence, which may lead to career sabotage. So, one of the best things to do while studying abroad in the given circumstances is to have your fair share of fun and do things that you won’t be able to do otherwise.
You may be wondering by now what exactly are the things to do while studying abroad! Don’t worry, because we have an exhaustive list of things lined up for you that you can take up in almost any study abroad destination and they aren’t only fun, but would add value to your degree and make you a better person.
10 things to do while studying abroad
Embrace your new city and environment with open arms: It is natural to feel a tinge of sadness at having to leave the comfort and reassuring familiarity of your homeland, but that doesn’t mean you stay aloof and go into a shell in your new city. One of the things you can do while studying abroad is accept your new environment, be it the people, culture or weather. If you meet a guy living next to your room, give him a warm smile, talk about the weather, or ask for help if you need it –some of the people may give cold stares, but be less assured, the majority will be welcoming and won’t hesitate to help you. Also, prejudices in the world prosper because of ignorance, and by showing them that you can easily assimilate with the culture and lifestyle of your new city, you are not only winning them over but breaking age-old stereotypes people have about others.
Work part-time: Studying abroad means you will be paying hefty tuition fees and spending on health insurance and travel insurance; so if you manage to get yourself a part-time job you can get some breathing space, making it from a practical point of view among the best things to do while studying abroad. In countries like Germany and New Zealand, there are sufficient work opportunities for students, like in New Zealand you can work up to 20 hours per week during sessions and full-time during breaks. While in the USA, graduates with F-1 visa aren’t allowed to work off-campus in the first year, they can work campus in the second year in the field of their study.
Your university is the microcosm of a mini universe, make the most of it: You may have decided to study abroad because you thought you will be better placed professionally that way. But one aspect that shouldn’t be missed is you get to mingle with an international community of students, some of whom may be drawn from as far apart as the Americas and Africa. These students from different backgrounds and pursuing different programs –be it engineering or MBA, are a reflection of how the world is shaping up today. And being a part of this group you can imbibe their culture, learn new languages and marvel at how they react to situations so differently than you do. One useful suggestion is: keep your eyes peeled.
Visit the countryside: The big cities may hog the limelight, but it is the countryside that is the soul of any country. Away from the crowd and awash with greenery, and in some cases stunning valleys zigzagging ever so languidly across them, the graceful countryside would stop you in your tracks and force you to marvel at their beauty. And you for once will forget the rat race and be grateful to be in the middle of people who are caring and self-effacing to the point of being embarrassing. The countryside, therefore, should feature prominently in your list of things to do while studying abroad. If you need some ideas, rural Kent and East Sussex, in the UK, with their brick-built traditional cottages and ancient castles are natural picks.
Make friends with the locales: Friendship, the greatest gift a person can get, transcends barriers and fills our heart with contentment and teaches us values of tolerance and brotherhood. While there is no such rule that you only make friends with the locals, there are many benefits of doing so. For one, if you have a local as your best buddy, you will stop feeling like an outsider. Also, he can help you learn about the local culture, traditions and geography better than any book ever can. You can even coax him to accompany you on a road trip, and have the time of your lives; after all, don’t they say –it takes two to tango!
Participate in local events: Many interesting things go on in a city, like food festivals, fire festivals and jazz events. Attending these events can be a great stress buster and are an opportunity to unleash your social skills, like you can break into an impromptu dance and impress the audience and your friends. What you will find in these events is a colorful display of local culture and their ethos, which is unique to them and therefore something to be treasured.
Travel beyond the frontiers of your city: Mark Twain, the famous author and humorist, believed that if you want to escape from narrow-minded ness and get a broad holistic view of things, there is no better alternative to travel. And luckily for you, most of the top academic destinations have some amazing places –including world heritage sites, historical architecture and cascading waterfalls, to impress you. If you are studying in Italy, for instance, you can travel back in time and have a rendezvous with the Roman gladiators at the Colosseum, or get a peek at Renaissance masterpieces at the Uffizi Gallery.
Immerse yourself in the local culture: It is generally said that it is culture more than politics that brings nations closer, so when you are abroad, it is not a bad idea to put in some effort to imbibe the local culture. Also, with the advent of globalization and MNCs, people jet-setting across countries for work-related purposes has become the new normal. The general trend is if you can showcase your ability to assimilate with different cultures, companies or other organizations are more open to your candidature. So, learning the local culture is one of best things to do while studying abroad –eat their food, get dressed in their tradition and participate in their festivities!
Keep a record of your activities: How does it feel to go through your old album? Nostalgic, melancholic with a yearning for the good old times, or amused by Oh! Did I really do that feeling? Whatever may be the reaction, one thing is pretty sure; we all dearly hold onto those memories and wouldn’t trade them for all the money in the world. After all if you take away our memories, we cease to be who we are. Now when you are in a new city, there can be many memories, good and bad, that you may like to relish later in life, and you would like to capture them for posterity. You can do that by maintaining a blog or journal, jotting down all the key events, which also in a way would be one of the fun things to do while you are studying abroad.
Learn the local language: If you manage to speak in the language of the locals, you will be able to wriggle out of difficult situations more easily, especially in countries where English is not the usual lingua franca (ELF), like Germany and China. For example, you can haggle with a vendor more effectively, get information quicker since you don’t have to take the help of an interpreter, and in situations, say you are in a rush and have to attend a seminar but lost your way, you can save your day by asking a local to show you the direction in his language if he doesn’t follow English. If you needed more convincing, learning a new language is equally fun!
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