Tips for Studying Abroad
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2012 11:03
When embarking on studying abroad for a semester, people will undoubtedly be dishing out advice left and right, such as "beware of culture shock", "watch out for pickpockets", "try not to spend your entire semester and all of your money in a European club". But, having been abroad myself for the last two months, I can tell you that while that advice is SORT OF helpful, it most definitely will not be all you need to know to successfully survive while studying abroad. So, with the help of several of my friends who are also abroad this semester, in various European countries, I have compiled a list of things that WILL be helpful to you should you choose to study abroad.
So here is some worthwhile advice on:
CLUBBING - Check the age range of a club BEFORE showing up and paying to get in ... otherwise you may end up grinding on a minor. Additionally, girls should avoid clubs that are frequented by the over-50 crowd, because generally there is nothing more persistent than a geriatric Italian man who might have taken a fancy to your blonde hair.
SOCIALIZING - Go out and socialize with the natives! Find yourself a local bar, restaurant or café, and frequent it to the point where the staff recognizes you. (And who knows, maybe they will give you discounts or free alcohol!)
UNEXPECTED THINGS THAT YOU WILL LEARN - If going to London do not expect to see any English, because they have all moved out of the expensive city. Also, if you are in Rome do not expect to hear anyone say "arrivederci", because everyone says "ciao".
DATING - These words of wisdom from Ireland could apply to any country, "The "shift" is when a guy and a girl hook up on the dance floor for a while (or maybe for not so long a while, you have to factor in: degree of drunkenness, level of attractiveness and expertise of kissing/dancing. It's a highly advanced mathematic formula, I assure you), and then "drift"- as in they leave you and go shift someone else. It's called the "shift and drift". Ladies and gents, don't expect for the guy/girl who comes up to you to ask for your number or anything. They probably don't care and just want to shift you. There are exceptions, but this happens a lot. Irish people love shifting.
MONEY - Make sure that you have plenty of money, because no matter how much you budget you will probably be flat broke by the time you go home.
KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GETTING YOURSELF INTO - Research the country you are going to beforehand, for example if you are a partier, go to a party city instead of showing up to a quiet town disappointed that it isn't dance central. Also something to note; be aware of major cultural differences, for example if you are a female in Italy you will probably get your ass pinched/grabbed at some point while abroad.
EXPLORE - Thoroughly explore the area you live in to find stores near you. That way you don't end up lugging your groceries halfway across the city for two months only to discover that there was a grocery store hidden right across the street from you that whole time.
FOOD - You will be craving some weird foods while abroad that will probably be difficult to get a hold of, such as peanut butter, and mac and cheese, so if you absolutely cannot live without them, leave some room in your suitcase for food. You should also pay attention to the food that your country is known for, and live for it. For example Italy = pasta everyday of your life, so get used to it (and don't eat any pasta pre-visit).
CLASSES - 8:30 AM classes suck no matter what country you live in. Also a bad idea? Night classes. Just don't do it.
NECESSITIES - Bring a dictionary to the grocery store. It will save your life.
PHYSICAL CHANGES - Be aware of other changes that may occur to you beyond the usual weight gain/weight loss, such as a stutter or a sudden development of dyslexia and a complete inability to form coherent sentences.
LANGUAGE - Know the basics on the language of the country you are going to, and try to practice speaking the language every day in places like restaurants, cafes, etc.
TRAFFIC - Remember that in some countries traffic moves the other way. Also, jaywalking is just as acceptable in other countries as it is in Boston. Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings, and if you are in Italy, watch out for the Vespa's.
WEATHER - Research the weather of your country, come to terms with it and then pack accordingly. For instance, it rains a lot in Ireland so invest in a good umbrella, and be aware that the cobblestones in Italy will probably destroy any/all of the shoes that you bring with you.
PUBLIC RESTROOMS - Ladies -- in any restroom you use in a restaurant/bar/public area there is most likely to be a line about three miles long. My advice? Use the men's room. Don't be shy, no one really cares and you will save yourself from a lot of pain and trouble.
In conclusion, if you are considering studying abroad, by all means, do it, and I wish you the best of luck. Just remember that the afternoon you will be forced to spend in the C. Walsh Theatre at "Study Abroad Orientation" will be close to five hours of listening to people throw advice at you, and it still will not cover everything you need to know. Studying abroad, like college itself, is a learning experience, and sometimes the best way to learn is to simply dive in headfirst with a good sense of humor and then spread your wisdom on to future study abroad students.
A million thanks to my fellow Suffolk study abroad students who helped me compile this list: Chelsea Szmania, Clarice Sousa, Brianna McGrath, Diana Rodrigues, Ashlie Triolo-Dekkers, Ali Rabesa, and Hillary Layden.