Tips for a Successful Semester Abroad

After spending my Fall semester in France, I thought it would be helpful if I shared some of my tips and tricks to have a successful semester abroad. By no means am I an expert, but there are a few key tips that I thought were important to mention to those of you who at the beginning of the great adventure that is study abroad.

Go! Get Out! Explore! – Get out of your apartment and do something. Whether it’s weekend traveling, day trips, or just walking to the nearest park, do everything you can to fight the urge to hang out in your apartment all day. Every city has its many museums, parks, monuments, and much more for you to explore. Take the chance to see everything your city has to offer. You are only here for a short period of time and will most definitely regret the days and weekends you spent inside, marathon-ing Netflix. In the end you will be thanking yourself!

Take Advantage of Opportunities – This goes with the above topic, but beyond just getting out of your apartment, involve yourself in an activity you love. If you enjoy yoga, find a local yoga class to attend every week. If you love music, find a place that has live performances. If you love volunteering, ask around and see what volunteer opportunities you can get involved in. Not only with you be getting involved but this gives you the opportunity to meet people outside of your friend group who are locals in the city. The opportunities are endless; you just have to get out and look for them! (And some can also look really great on your resume!)

A photo from one of my last weekends in Paris!

A photo from one of my last weekends in Paris!

Plan in Advance – When it comes to getting out and traveling on the weekends, plan far in advance. This means planning trips and buying plane, train, and bus tickets ahead of time as well as booking hostels and Air BnBs far in advance. As the semester goes on prices on transportation and lodging will rise and it can become very expensive to travel, so be proactive and start planning and booking now!

Manage your Time – Just in case you forgot, the word “study” is a big part of study abroad. You will have to learn how to manage your classes while giving yourself time to explore your city and leave some time for weekend travel if you so wish. Make time for your classes because they are important and you can learn a lot about your home city from your professors. My best tip would be to do homework in between class breaks as well as during the week (Monday-Thursday). You’ll be much happier if you keep up with your school work because that means more stress-free travel on the weekends!

Get to Know your City – Yes, traveling outside of your city is an important and exciting part of studying abroad, but its also important to get to know your city! Become a local at your favorite restaurants and cafes, find your favorite spots, and meet locals. Let yourself adjust and feel at home in your city. When your friends or parents visit you’ll feel like an expert and will know all the great places to take them! You will be surprised at the end of these four months just how comfortable you can feel in a city that once felt completely foreign to you.

I hope these tips make you think a little more about what you want to get out of your study abroad experience and maybe they have inspired you to get out of your comfort zone a little. This may be a once in a lifetime experience, don’t let it pass you by!

Until next time!

Follow my travels and thoughts on Instagram and Twitter @karisachan

Karisa Desjardins
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Business Administration major, Global Studies minor
Class of 2016