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4 Things I Wish I Had Known During My First Semester Abroad

February 24, 2017

I am currently studying abroad at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for a full year. The majority of the friends I made the first semester were international students here just for one semester so when the spring semester started, I had to start all over again. This semester I met incredible people who showed me what it was to truly live the ‘college experience’ in the U.S.

Here’s four things I wish I had known for my first semester abroad:

1. Go to every event on campus

Literally — go to every event on campus. Sign up for every excursion. Take part in on-campus training. Any opportunity is the perfect time to meet new people. This semester, I cannot even count how many friends I met at random events. Adding to that, I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the events that can take place on campus! I’ve learned so much just going to guest conferences, different cultural celebrations and shows on campus.

2. Stay around and open the discussion

Hang out at the Student Center or the coffee shops on campus. Stay a little bit longer at the end of the events. Don’t go back to your room immediately after class. You’ll miss so many things and I wish someone had told me that last semester. Become a member of your university’s community and you’ll feel like you have always belonged here.

3. Volunteer

That’s a little bit different from going to every event on campus. I would highly recommend to volunteer off-campus. I had the chance to volunteer for a rodeo, one of the biggest in the U.S. Not only did we have a lot of fun, but it was also an amazing opportunity to discover and learn more about the American culture and the city where we live.

4. Make every day count

Last but not least, make every single day count — even if it’s just hanging out with your friends after class and having a good laugh. Experience as many things as possible and make memories. Always say yes to new opportunities. You never know, maybe your future best friend will be attending this event!

Last semester, I lost so many hours catching up my TV shows and taking naps in my dorm. I was living on campus as a French student and I would wake up, go to class and go back to my dorm. I now realized I missed out a lot of opportunities by doing so.

Realize that when you’ll be back to your home university, you won’t remember the afternoons when you took a long nap but you will remember that afternoon when you decided to have a walk through the city because it was sunny outside, that evening when you talked until 6 a.m. without even noticing, that night you decided to grab some food at 2 a.m. and wander around the city. Don’t waste your time. You can sleep at the end of the semester!

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