In order to improve your chances of absolutely falling in love with your study abroad journey, you should have some idea about what you want to get out of the experience. It doesn’t have to be too specific, but an open-minded list of goals will help you stay on track if you ever start feeling like the days are all blurring into one another.
When I spent three weeks in Alsace as a teenager, I had no idea where I was on a map of France, let alone what to expect from it. I sort of figured my program and teachers would arrange it all for me. They did, to an extent, but it meant nothing to me because I hadn’t researched anything on my own.
My experience was with a service and language immersion program and I kept busy with my small-town volunteer schedule. I knew nothing about the town beyond the job and my host’s home and very quickly found myself living what felt like a provincial life.
Being a visual learner, I needed to read maps, look at photos, and visit sites in person to really understand where I was and where I wanted to be.
Luckily, I made a friend who had her own France bucket list and allowed me to tag on to some experiences when we weren’t working. For example, she was Catholic and wanted to experience mass at the Notre Dame in Paris. I wasn’t Catholic but who doesn’t love Quasimodo? I respectfully joined when our group took a Parisian weekend trip and fell in love with the medieval cathedral.
That positive experience inspired me to join every activity planned for the remainder of the trip. Looking back, setting more goals (like she did) would’ve helped me get better acquainted with the cities much faster.