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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Studying Abroad

Written by  June 14, 2013

Whether you are a first-time traveler about to embark on your journey or coming to the end of your trip, here is Eric's advice on how to make the most of your time abroad.

Time flies when you’re having fun: I cannot think of a better phrase to describe my time abroad as I quickly approach the three-quarter mark of my stay here in the beautiful New Zealand.

In just over a month I will be heading back to Canada and leaving behind my interim home here in Auckland. Looking at a calendar the other day really helped to put things into perspective; I realized that I still have a ton of things I would like to see and do while I am here and seemingly such little time. The next month should be jam-packed with travel and I can’t wait for what the future has in store.

However, in the meantime I would just like to offer up a few pieces of (hopefully) helpful advice that I have come up with during my time abroad.

1. Do everything that you want to do.

While abroad I have come to find that people have a tendency to get in the heads of others. Countless times I have heard someone try to convince someone else that a certain activity or site isn’t fun or isn’t worthwhile. And countless times I have ignored these warnings and had some of the best times while abroad.

Of course people are only trying to help and you should be selective with their advice. (For example if someone says an area is really dangerous, do your research and be wary of that fact.) But don’t let someone dictate your trip. If there is something you really want to do, just do it. It will be a learning experience either way and will prevent you from regretting missing out on something that could have been amazing.

2. Don’t be afraid to travel alone.

During my earlier time in Auckland I operated under the idea that I needed someone to travel with at all times. I found that I would just avoid doing things I wanted to do, or just do different things entirely if no one else wanted to come, with the hopes that someone might join me another time. Now that my time is winding down and I am attempting to jam everything into one short month, I realize that if there is something you want to do, don’t wait forever for someone else to do it with you because you might miss the opportunity completely. While traveling with friends might be ideal, traveling alone has certain tranquility about it and allows you to roam freely wherever you so please without having anyone holding you back.

3. Emphasis on abroad.

For those who are taking part in an exchange program or are studying abroad, I must admit that an emphasis should be placed on the abroad portion. This is not to say you should neglect your studies by any means. However, I must admit that I have learned much more about myself and the world through traveling around and meeting new people than I ever would from a book. It is a different type of learning, but it is a valuable experience that you might not ever get again so you should take full advantage of it.

4. Spend wisely.

This is a big one. Over the first few months I went crazy with my money on things like eating out and going out on the town regularly. I now I find I am low on cash and struggling to find means to pay for all of the extra stuff I still want to do, but I am doing everything I can to make it work. Of course everyone will have a different budget but it is important to be mindful of your spending and prioritize, as the money can fly away quickly if you are not careful.

5. Take lots of pictures.

Being abroad should be one of the best times of your life. You will see so many amazing things, meet tons of interesting people and most importantly create a bunch of good memories. At the time you might be having too much fun to be thinking of photography if it isn’t something you’re into, but it’s the small things that count. You will want to remember these times for the rest of your life so don’t hesitate to snap a photo or two.

For some these tips might come as common sense, but for others it could change their entire outlook and experience while traveling. So take my advice with a grain of salt, but just remember to have fun and savor every moment.

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Eric Forrest

Eric Forrest studies Multimedia and Communications at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He jetted to the other side of the world to study Film Television and Media Studies at The University of Auckland in New Zealand. Ever wonder what it’s like to study with “Kiwis”? Follow Eric’s adventures!

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