Here are some tips on how to make the most of your experience:
- Expectations: Set reasonable expectations for yourself before you go abroad. Research the country you will be living in and the internship program or company you will be working for to help you set reasonable expectations for your day to day experiences. Additionally, reading about others’ experience interning and living abroad can help you get a better perspective. It’s also important to set realistic personal expectations. These can include creating a budget, reflecting on your comfort zone and how much you want to push yourself, and how often you will need time to yourself. It’s good to go into any abroad experience with an open mind, knowing that it will be challenging. However some preparation can help ease the transition.
- Look for Student/Youth Discounts: Many countries have programs catering to students or young people. For example, there may be a transportation card discount or reduced museum prices. These are great to take advantage of, but sometimes you have to look for them.
- Take Advantage of Local Companies Catering to International Students: Many cities have companies that cater specifically to international students. They may help you find housing, host events, plan weekend trips, host cooking classes, etc. This can be one way to connect with other international people, and can be helpful when you’re learning a new city.
- Get to Know Your Home City: After a long day of work, it’s easy to just want to go home, eat and sleep. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a special opportunity, and you’re there for the cultural experience, as much as the work experience. Taking walks through the city, trying new restaurants, attending local events, and visiting notable sites are a great way to learn more about where you are living.
- Plan Ahead: Planning ahead will help ensure you achieve all of your travel goals. Certain sites require tickets to be purchased months in advance and plane tickets are usually less expensive when you book out farther in advance. Additionally, your work schedule may not allow you to be very flexible with your activities (i.e. if you work Monday-Friday, you will only be able to visit places farther away on weekends), so you’ll have fewer options for dates to visit. Researching where you’re visiting ahead of time is also really helpful. You will know what to expect and things that you will want to do. This can help save time when you’re on your trip versus spending time during your trip figuring out what to do.
- Keep a Travel Journal: You can write notes, journal entries, make collages, or draw. It may seem silly to do in the moment, but you will appreciate those memories once you are back home.