From learning the local currency, to sacrificing American conveniences, not understanding general study abroad guidelines could take away from your experience abroad. Here are five things you should know before studying abroad:
1. Learn the local currency
Learning the exchange rates will save you money and stress. Take for example, Loyola junior and past study abroad student Samantha Kirzeder. Kirzeder says, “when I was in Costa Rica I didn’t exchange my money before my flight. When I landed, I paid $50 for a taxi that really would have costed me $20 in the local currency.”
2. You will learn more outside the classroom
“A study abroad experience is more than just taking courses and exams,” says Violeta Rosales, a graduate student at The American University in Cairo and New York Times contributor. According to a Clark University study abroad survey, people who study abroad gain a better understanding of cultural values and broaden their way of looking at the world. It also encourages diverse friendships.
3. Embrace spontaneity
Study abroad experiences can and should be unpredictable. Don’t over plan. Caitlin Pilgrim, 22, a Loyola senior and John Felice Rome Center student says taking everything day by day makes experiences abroad more exciting. “We usually decided where we wanted
to travel to based off what the flight prices were like for that week. Some of my favorite places that we traveled to (Budapest, Ireland) we decided to go to two days before we left,” says Pilgrim.
4. You will make friends
Studying abroad leads to long-lasting friendships, according to the Clark University study exploring the long-term impact study abroad has on students. Over half of the students surveyed say they remain in contact with the friends they made abroad.
5. You won’t feel 100% comfortable
There will be times you feel lonely. Don’t panic. Studying abroad is about expanding your horizons and stepping out of your comfort zone. If you feel homesick, it’s likely that the people you are studying abroad with feel the same way. If you’re unsure about studying abroad, check out this Youtube video by Max Rehkopf, a study abroad student highlighting the impact his experience had on him.