This is your time! Just as you wouldn’t let someone else make all your decisions here in Kent, don’t let someone else design or dictate your study abroad experience. Again, this is your time. Study abroad is not one-size-fits-all. The right phone for one student is the wrong phone for another. The dream destination for one student is ho-hum for another. Don’t look for right and wrong answers to your questions. Look for information that will help you sort out the best answer for you. Study abroad is an amazing opportunity to get to know yourself while you get to know the world. Don’t make the mistake of trying to relive someone else’s perfect experience because it won’t be perfect for you. Be flexible and be willing to learn as you go – that’s the formula for designing your own experience. And above all, cherish every minute – even the down times – because you’ll be back in Kent before you know it, and you’ll wish it hadn’t gone so fast.
The most important piece of advice I have is this: Be open to new things as you've never been before, and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You can learn from people and situations you don't like, even if you can't learn to get along all the time. Don't let small things (that won't matter in two years) get to you. At the end of the day, celebrate what you did do, and do not dwell on what you haven't accomplished. Learn something new and grow in some way, everyday.
From Ryan F:
Don’t travel internationally with a beard, because you will have an INTERESTING time. Also, learn basic phrases of the language you will be surrounded by, and always respect cultural differences.
• Being nervous is normal
• So is crying
• Be practical when packing
• Contact study abroad alumni for advice with packing, culture shock, etc.
• Go outside of your comfort zone
• Don't sleep ;)
Don't worry about anything other than having the time of your life and taking advantage of any and every possibility that's thrown at you.
From Ryan C:
I always warn students that it will be like slipping into a dream for a semester and then waking up as they fly home. I want students getting ready to study abroad not to let any opportunity pass them by. I want them to take a picture of everything. My albums from my semester range from photos of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben to pictures of a laundromat in Florence where I dried my clothes. Take a second to look at every monument, landscape, road and building. Explore where you want to go. Travel alone if necessary – it's not difficult. I did it. Stay true to yourself while learning about yourself at the same time. Lastly, make this experience yours. When you look back on the trip, I want you to feel satisfied, independent and exhilarated.