Saying NO To FOMO: 5 Ways To Avoid Study Abroad Regrets
You may have heard people talk about their study abroad experience – they ~*found themselves*~, or came back a ~*changed person*~. While studying abroad isn’t always this transformative for everyone, it CAN be incredibly life-changing and eye-opening if you take charge of your semester. Here are some ways to make sure you get the most out of your time abroad.
1. Embrace Being a Tourist
Don’t be embarrassed to do or say something just because you’ll “look like a tourist”. Spoiler: natives will know you’re a tourist no matter how much you try to blend in. I’m not saying you should run around in nothing but an American flag singing the national anthem, but you SHOULDN’T miss out on the tourist spots just to look like a local. Try to be respectful and show residents that you appreciate being in their city; many people welcome the business and sales that tourists bring. So pull out that trusty selfie stick and who cares if people look at you like you’re a tourist – you are! Enjoy it.
2. Make a List
You may feel like you have tons of time to see everything, but believe me – the semester goes by fast. I’m a planner at heart so it goes without saying that I really enjoy making lists. Lists help keep track of what you have seen and what you haven’t, what you CAN’T miss and what you’d like to see if you have a spare afternoon, helping you plan your time accordingly. Someone tells you a great place to visit or their favorite restaurant? Write it down! Don’t wait until you get somewhere to figure out what there is to do. There are lots of weekend trips to do and you don’t want to waste time on a single one.
3. Stick to the Culture
One of the biggest regrets associated with studying abroad can stem from not immersing yourself in this new culture you’re surrounded with. It may seem scary to talk to people who don’t speak your language…or trying to order at a restaurant and getting it completely wrong. This may (and TBH, probably will) happen to you, but it’s part of the experience! You’ll never grow if you never try (and how cool would it be to come home with some new language skills under your belt). So, speak a new language even if you sound like an weirdo. Look up local parties, theaters, cinemas; you never know what kind of events are being hosted in your own city. Don’t forget to eat the local food, this is how I’ve found some of my favourite dishes (like Saganaki in Greece, which happens to be fried cheese and WHO DOESN’T LOVE FRIED CHEESE).
4. Meet New People
As easy as it will be to only become friends with other international students that speak your language, try to make friends with local students as well. Yeah you might strike out occasionally when talking to locals, but you could also meet some really amazing people with experiences you couldn’t imagine. Or a boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other (it has happened)!
Another perk of befriending locals? They know the best spots to hangout. Trust me – if you’re in a big city, there will be too many restaurants, bars, and events to figure out by yourself. Sit next to someone in class and ask them what they’re doing this weekend! When you get to that awesome little restaurant you never would have found otherwise, it’ll be worth it.
5. Learn to Flow with the Unknown
If you’re studying abroad you’ve already made it this far into the unknown. Don’t stop now. Don’t spend your time being scared that you’re missing things at home or that people are moving on without you – they aren’t. Don’t be scared that you don’t have that weekend trip planned out to a T – you’ll make it work. If you want to “find yourself” you have to do things you’ve never done before; and if you’re anything like me that involves not worrying about what’s to come and enjoying the moment you are in.