5 things I learned on my Study Abroad

I recently went for a study abroad to Aruba as a part of my study. The school year in Aruba starts in mid-August and therefore, I decided that I wanted to combine it with a two month vacation. Simply because who would not want to spend an extra two months in the Caribbean.
My adventure started in late March, when I found out that I got placed to Aruba. I applied as a joke because the demand for Aruba is quite high. My university usually only sent one student. Well, imagine how surprised I was when I received the decision email. Luckily, my girlfriend is from Aruba (yes, that is the main reason why I applied to go there) and she enthusiastically jumped on the opportunity to help me set everything up. She was so wonderful; she helped me find a studio, gather everything that I needed and made plans for our summer together in her home country.
This experience was probably one of the things that I will look back to for many years. Study abroad or exchanges are common these days and there are many things that seem scary when you are about to go on one. Therefore I created a short list of things that I learned on my study abroad to help anyone who needs a little push.

It’s good to go somewhere unknown.

We all travel and go places and we have a favorite place to go. We’ve all become very comfortable in our own country and city and made many friends that make us feel home. This seems to be scary to leave. But what people don’t tell you is that the only thing that is scary about going is the preparation phase. The research, the packing, the planning and what-not. Once you get one that plane, everything will become so real. Once you step your foot in the new country, you will change your mind. Meeting new people, creating new memories and making a different place your home is truly one of the best opportunities.

Make friends outside of your circles.

Sure, you are already out of your comfort zone by being in another country. But you cannot just stick to the people who you can easily connect with. I mean – don’t only make friends in your class/school. Reach out to other people, go join clubs or do team activities. The best people one can meet are people that do not fall into the same category. Talk to that quiet dude or to that strange looking girl, I assure you that they are the greatest people.

Don’t just google, ask locals for recommendations.

Google has become the best place to ask your questions. However, if you are visiting another country, chances are that Google will recommend the touristy options. For example, if you try to Google Aruba and things to do there, you will get a bunch of tours that everyone else goes to. This ties together with making local friends – ask around for local recommendations. I bet you that they will tell you insights on where the locals go and where you can find the best food.

Make sure you know how to get places.

Many countries have functional and reliable public transport. Aruba unfortunately is not one of those countries. Wherever you are going, first find out if there is public transport or if you have to find another option. Some countries are very bike friendly or some place you just might have to rent or buy a car. Unfortunate, buy totally doable.

Lastly, go to the beach as much as possible.

BeachYou may not end up as close to the beach as I was but if you have a beach nearby, go as much as possible! Especially if you normally live in a rainy country like the Netherlands where everyone is so sun deprived, they have to take vitamins to stay happy. Luckily, that’s why you have the opportunity to go to a very sunny place. If you don't have a beach nearby, enjoy every single moment anyway. 

Now that you have read my tips, are you still considering going?

If you are not sure, take my word – GO. You will never be able to have the same opportunity to go to another country and experience the local culture without having to have a job. Also, no one will ever take that experience from you and that is priceless.

Want more advice or a chat about it? Don’t hesitate to message me here.

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