With so many high points and potentially a few lows, no one is going to have an absolutely perfect study abroad experience. However, I would like to share some tips with you to limit your regrets and help you have the best experience!
1. Thoroughly research all of your options before picking your destination.
This may seem a little obvious, but it is important to take into account all the features that each host country or city has to offer. When I was considering where to study abroad, I admittedly chose Brussels because it was the first program I came across, and it was centrally located in Europe which makes traveling easy. Yet after living here for a couple of months, I realized it is missing things that I would have wanted during my study abroad experience. For example, I do not speak French, so the college that I attend is a small international school filled with mostly other English speakers and Americans. When I thought of studying abroad, I was hoping to interact with my peers from all around the world, so I am missing out on this.
2. Don’t forget to explore the city you are living in.
I am so fortunate to be able to travel to different European cities on the weekends, yet I realize I haven’t given my own city enough attention! I’ve realized that I have become too wrapped up in attempting to see as much as I possibly can, but I have neglected the museums, attractions, and other cultural experiences that Brussels has to offer. So, make sure to dedicate time to get to know what makes your host city unique. In addition, aim for finding the whole-in-the-wall places that tourists haven’t discovered. After all, you are a local!
3. Consider studying abroad with a friend.
I’ll be the first to admit that I would have ignored this advice before I chose to study abroad. I consider myself an independent person, so I wasn’t even the least bit worried about moving to a foreign country without knowing anyone. However, adjusting to just about every aspect of my life changing has been harder than I imagined, so it would have been nice to have a friend from home to work through the difficulties together. You probably also share similar interests as your friend, so this is a guaranteed buddy to tag along on all the activities you want to experience!
But don’t get me wrong. These things have by no means ruined my experience, and I would still strongly encourage everyone to embark on this unique journey. There are so many aspects of Brussels that I love, I have been able to make some time to explore the city, and I have made some amazing friends here that I am able to travel with!
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