Tips On How To Be Productive Abroad (Other Than Studying)

I don’t know about you guys, but being an international student has given me a lot of free time. Time to travel, time to shop (after you convinced yourself really need to buy that thing on sale just because it’s on sale) and most definitely time to recover from last night’s hangover. But those aren’t really productive, are they? Well, it depends on how you see it… but the last two definitely aren’t. So, apart from traveling and meeting deadlines for classes, here are things I’ve been doing to be productive abroad.

Make A Plan.

be productive abroad schedule

Ever had one of those days where you’d said you’d do a lot of things, but actually end up doing nothing? Yeah… same… A trick I did to get myself motivated was buying a planner. It really helped a lot because I was able to organised my plans and college work all at the same time. A planner served as my motivator because of the little checklists I had and it made me feel like I had my life together. It makes me feel more of an “adult”.  Plus, it makes me feel accomplished once you tick things off my list!

Go Site-seeing.

Cheezburger be productive abroad

If you’ve just moved to an unexplored city, you definitely must be excited to see all the sites as soon as possible! My advice is to not see all the sites in one day. You’re not a tourist; you are now considered as a local for the next few months. What’s the rush, right? Take your time because you will be able to appreciate your new city or town better. Use those days when you don’t have classes to visit monuments or places you haven’t been to yet.

As for those who have seen all the sites, take the road not wandered. Try avoiding the busy streets and walk the streets you rarely take. (Obviously I wouldn’t advise going to the dodgy and unsafe areas. That’s a big NO.) You never know what random shop of treasures you will find, such a thrift shop or a mysterious shop where a gypsy lady appears out of nowhere and tells you your fortune.

You might find a hidden restaurant with unbelievable food that you and your mates can go to every Thursday night. (To add to that, you could help support a local family business just by being regulars.) You also could come across some street art on the walls of some buildings… and this is now your chance to take pictures if you deem it Snapchat or Instagram worthy. Bottom line is you never know what you will find when you take uncharted routes.

Get Crafty.

Having just moved into your new crib, you would want to fill some space up just to make it feel more homely and cozy. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should go to IKEA and buy curtains and shelves. Nope, not at all. What I mean to say is that you should let your creativity become a float.

Do a photo collage on your wall, spring some fairy lights across your room or (like me) make a coin display from all the places you’ve visited. Learn DIY projects on YouTube or from blogs like mine *winks* which are FULL of craft ideas.

Going to a craft store is a good start, but if you really want to push creativity, why not recycle your old pasta jar and turn it into a flower vase or bedazzle it and turn it into your sweet jar (which is what I did). Seeing something that I made out of nothing makes me feel really productive.

Learn Or Improve A  Skill.

No be productive abroad

So, you live on your own now and mum isn’t there to cook for you. What do you do? Watch Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen and learn how to curse like him. After learning a curse or two, you might be persuaded enough to cook yourself some of his mouth-watering food. I know I have.

Cooking was never my forte (I even burnt rice and all I had to do was drop them into the pot of boiling water), but since being abroad I have made it a goal to learn how to cook. It’s also your chance to wow your family with your Master Chef skills when you get back home.

Painting, miming, karate or whatever you wish you could’ve learned back home but didn’t because you were busy, you now learn abroad because you have loads of time. Skills such as budgeting come in handy too… but you learn that when you’ve realized you’ve overspent.

For those of you who are residing in a country that doesn’t speak your mother tongue, this is now your opportunity to improve on that language. I know that’s why I chose to study abroad. If your mates at uni are busy, then why not indulge in some self-learning? And I don’t mean the usual read-a-book-and-write-down-notes-about-it that you might do for class. You can use Tinder to find some practice buddies to help you improve.

OR you can take extra language classes. But, what I usually do when I’m doing online shopping, looking up stuff for travelling and or anything in general, is I have the website in the spoken language of the country I’m residing in, which is French. Based on my experience, I learn more this way. But this is just something I do to make it more interesting and challenging, because a challenge is never tedious. How you learn is definitely up to you, but this is just a way for me to keep my day productive so I don’t waste a day without learning something.


There are a lot more things you can do to make your day productive when you don’t have classes, like joining a team for sports, going to the gym or even starting a new blog. What I’ve mentioned above are things I have done and found very fun and entertaining so feel free to try something new all the time, because you’re always productive when you do. Have a productive day!

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Jerli Dawn is an international student who can't decide whether to choose the comforts of her own bed or the enticing adventures that beckon her. So she writes about it all.

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