3 Questions Students Should Be Able to Answer Before Studying Abroad
Taking a study abroad opportunity is one of the best moves a student can make to foster their personal and intellectual growth. That being said, they will often need some guidance in preparing for their trips, making a game plan and developing goals for themselves. Below are three questions students should be able to answer before they depart for their overseas adventures.
1. Have you done all your research?
When students are planning on going to another country, they need to take the preparation process seriously. First and foremost, it’s critical for you to highlight the importance of students attending the orientation for their program, paying attention, taking notes and asking questions. Make sure you convey how critical it is for them to read all the documents they’ve been given and for them to have a thorough understanding of the information that has been provided for them. Let them know that while it may seem boring and dry in comparison to the excitement they’re feeling about their upcoming trip, the reality is that without this level of preparation, their experience could end up going very poorly.
Some of the topics to emphasize and make sure that students have a thorough grasp on are local laws, information around cost of living/how much you’ll need to budget, cultural norms (what’s acceptable to do and what isn’t), and safety precautions. Make sure they know that it’s also smart to pick up at least some basic phrases in the language of the country they’re visiting.
2. What do you want to learn & how will you do it?
Before they embark on their journey, advise them to create a game plan of exactly what they want to get out of the experience and how they plan on doing it. Have them make a list of specific topics they want to learn about – like culture, religion, politics or art – and suggest they plan out actionable ways to gather the most hands-on experience with these subjects. This plan should include places they will go, people they will interact with and activities they will partake in to make sure they’re gaining the insight they hope to come away with.
3. What is your plan for dedicating enough energy to schoolwork?
For many students, this is a big one. Being in a new, exciting place inevitably presents some distractions. It is completely possible, though, to create balance between experiencing a new country and continuing to do well academically. It will just take a bit of planning and a level of understanding beforehand of what the challenges will be.
Advise your students that before they leave, they should make rules for themselves, like “I’ll only go out exploring on the weekends,” “I’ll study for at least 2 hours after class every day,” etc. It’s important to drive home the fact that being overseas isn’t an excuse to slack on their coursework, and one of the worst things they can do while studying abroad is forget that they’re still meant to be studying. Make sure they remember that consequences, like having to re-take a class or fight a failing GPA, will follow them back home once the fun is over.