Studying abroad is an exciting experience; to say the least. Every fall quarter, hundreds of DU students begin researching all of the great opportunities that the university has to offer through DU Partner Programs. There are programs everywhere from Canada and the UK, to Ghana and India, and everything in between. Once students pick their locations, they begin the long process of applying and preparing to spend a semester abroad. In all of the excitement and busy work, sometimes students forget to manage their expectations.
Here are a few tips on how to overcome the potential challenges that come with being abroad:
Picking a Program:
- Keep in mind that you will call this country “home” for a few months, please pick a program carefully.
- Consider the amenities the country does or does not offer. For example, some countries are not as lucky enough to have hot showers or even constant running water. This can seem trivial now, but it is the small nagging problems that tear away at us when away from home.
- Wifi is something that is catching on as more countries become more developed but it will probably not be the same in most countries.
- Products that are legal in other countries are different to those that are legal in the U.S. If you know that you may be allergic to some or that you prefer some U.S. products, consider taking them from here.
- Pack small comforts for a “rainy day” like your favorite chocolate bar or pictures of friends. It is acceptable and normal to miss home.
- Make a list of challenges and how you might overcome them. For instance, “I know that there will not be any Wifi in my home, I will get through this by reading a book for fun, or writing in a journal that I can later show my loved ones.”
- Try to get used to the idea that your host country is not worse or better in than the U.S. it is simply different.
- If you find that you are only noticing the negative aspects of the country, make a quick list of five things you really enjoy about your host country.
- If you feel like coming home because of the poor living conditions, consider the experiences you can have there that are not available in the U.S.
- Remember that you have to adapt to the host country and their language, not the other way around.
- It is acceptable to appreciate the luxuries (like electricity) as soon as you are back, but also keep in mind the things you learned abroad,
In general, challenges abroad are different based on the country and the individual experiences of the student. Before considering coming home think about the opportunities that the countries abroad have to offer, and remember how lucky U.S. and DU students are to travel abroad. When you are faced with a challenge that you cannot change, take a step back and try to change your outlook on the problem.
Being abroad is difficult in many ways, but it is also a wonderful experience that we should try to get the most out of. If we manage our experiences before we leave, overcoming challenges while aboard will be much easier.
— Adrianna Romero, DUSA Peer Advisor