Tips for making the most of your time abroad

By Fahima Haque
Published July 25, 2011

Students studying abroad spend so much time preparing, planning and saving money to go on the trip, but sometimes they forget to hone in on what they should be doing while they’re there. Arguably, here’s a list of the top 5 most important things to do while you’re studying abroad.

1. Make friends

Befriending locals, and not just those in your study abroad program, is a great way to truly immerse yourself in a new culture. Sure, it can be intimidating, but by making new friends you are making the most of your abroad experience. It’s always great to take memorable photos of all the destinations you visit during your trip, but by including new friends in those photos makes it all the more memorable.

2. Write lists

During day trips or quick weekend trips to neighboring cities, a list can be very handy. You can prioritize what’s worth seeing and what you want to remember to check out before your weekend comes to an end. All you have to do is jot down some ideas of what you want to see or do to make your trip worthwhile and special.

3. Be a tourist

Many people are wary of being “that” tourist who gawks at a monument with his or her fanny pack on, map in hand. Once studying abroad you’ll quickly realize nothing is too touristy. If you haven’t seen or experienced it, you owe it to yourself to go and check it out!

4. Dare your taste buds

Even if you’re a self-proclaimed picky eater, try to remember that so much of understanding a new culture is through the food. Don’t be a wimp and at least try what the locals eat. Use your stomach as a way to get to know your new, albeit temporary, home. It doesn’t have to be fancy cuisine; street food is often the best and most offbeat way to get to know the area.

5. Walk everywhere

You know those things called legs? Use them and public transportation as much as you can. There will always be a ton of taxis in the cities you visit, but not only is walking or public transportation your cheapest option, it’s also the most savvy. Forget cabs. Walking throws you right into the city and helps you feel like a real local.


Learn more about studying abroad in Spain.

Fahima is a copy aide for the Washington Post and has a B.A. in journalism from American University. She studied abroad in London, England during the Spring of 2009.