Since I am abroad and travelling to new places nearly every weekend, it is inevitable that I get asked “Do you even study?”
Heads up…spoiler alert…here comes the secret…last chance to look away….ok here it is….YES, we do study!
Anticlimactic maybe? Sorry not sorry.
It is fairly common that students studying abroad are looked upon as slackers. People claim that students studying abroad do a lot more partying than studying, which is true in some cases but false in others. Every experience is relative to that particular person.
My friend Camille is studying abroad next semester in Madrid. Last night she asked if I would write a post about balancing my school work while traveling and having fun in Barcelona and Europe. So Camille, Mom, Dad, and future employers (since you probably want to know), this is for you.
As mentioned before, experiences differ from people to people. The tips I am offering are based off of what I have experienced thus far in my study abroad experience in terms of managing classes with travelling and having fun.
1. You do not need to travel [far] to have fun.
I take classes every weekday with my earliest class starting at 9 and my latest class ending at 3. Some days before class, I will go for a run. It helps me learn the area, gives me some exercise, wakes me up for class, makes me happy, etc. After class is done for the day, I will walk around the city, going to new neighborhoods and districts I’ve never seen before. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you may have noticed a reoccurring theme: Getting lost/Exploring. Getting lost helps you learn about the area that you specifically selected. You selected your specific country/city/town because it you probably thought it “seemed fun” and you wanted to learn more about it. You do not need to fly to another country to have fun. Fun is literally right in front of you, staring at your face…abroad or not abroad. Make use of those few hours after class and go to different neighborhoods before heading back to your house to do homework or whatever. Another benefit to staying local is that doing your school work is convenient and easier to manage than trying to do it while traveling.
It’s only half way through my semester abroad and I have been to Sevilla, Cordoba, Tibidabo, Costa Brava, Figueres, Gerona, Tarragona, Vic, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Brussels. I have Paris, Lisbon, and Madrid planned. I must say that while I have loved and thoroughly enjoyed travelling to all of these places, I feel like Barcelona is yet to be fully discovered. In other words, make use of your location, don’t worry about your next destination.
2. Make use of the weekends.
Weekends are your best friends when traveling, especially if you do not want to miss those Friday classes. Take your homework with you while you travel and do it on the plane, train, bus, car, hanglider, teleportation device, whatever. Coming back from a trip on Sunday night, you will be exhausted. Homework is the last thing you will want to do, so get it done during the week prior to the due date, or while traveling (waiting and transportation).
3. You’re abroad. Chill out.
Study and do well but do not let classes overwhelm you as much as they would at your home university/college. This goes for you whether your classes are pass fail or not. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the work load you have abroad and feel as though you are not getting the most out of your experience, talk to your advisor. You are abroad not just for classes, but to experience this new life. Save the stress for your home university.
4. Time management (in general).
If you find it hard to balance your to do list with “me time,” set up an agenda for yourself. You can get an agenda book, google calendar, anything really. Write down your assignments and set aside time for them. Do the same for your personal time. When you are abroad though, you will find that things are pretty whimsical and life is pretty much go with the flow. Let that happen, and do not cancel them out because they are getting into your study time.
Remember, this is a life experience as well. You’re in a different country! That means new people, new places, new culture. Live it up and take it easy!