In terms of opportunity, Bryant offers its students vast options throughout the entity of the college career. From the Sophomore International Experience, where students can travel outside of Smithfield for two weeks to a foreign country, to the Alternative Spring Break, students can grasp great possibility. Perhaps the grandest chance to venture and learn at the same time is through Bryant’s Study Abroad Program. Third years have the choice of traveling outside of the US for a semester with a wide variation from Italy to Prague to France or China, and the list goes on. Currently I reside in Salamanca, Spain located in the Northwest, with some of the richest history in Spain dating back to the 1100’s. As an International Business major studying Finance, Applied Statistics, and Spanish, thus far, the experiences are boundless.
However, for those considering studying abroad when the time comes, the benefits are not always as clear. Even though once the decision is made to study abroad all students will go through an orientation process, there does exist a portion of studying abroad that one can only understand once in their host country. So, here I have provided some ideas to consider when doing research and some experiences that will most likely happen to every student when leaving for abroad!
1. Budget, budget, budget! Did I say budget?
It’s important to realize that you are going to want to buy the world when you’re abroad. You’ll think you need everything you see in every store you go to. News flash: you don’t need clothes or shoes or a jacket that is one shade darker than the one you already have. Pretty soon you’ll be in a money crunch, and that is not fun when abroad. So budget! It is wise to separate your money into different purposes. For example, set aside funds for travel, souvenirs, food, and then spending money. Try to avoid making rash purchases when abroad and I guarantee you will be happier and feel safer.
2. Travel while you can and say “Yes”
Of course the most important place to experience is your host country, but when you feel like an escape weekend is necessary, traveling is the solution. It is not a bad idea to attempt to make some visits to surrounding countries. For example, though my studies are in Spain, a trip to Porto, Portugal is in my itinerary. This is the time for you to wander around the world, as the opportunity is practically handed to you. There are some wonderful deals out there for college students as well, so, before you go anywhere, research is key.
Another factor of studying abroad that will provide for more of a memorable experience, is to say yes to things. Try not to be a hermit while in your host country and do things that you would never get to do at Bryant or home. Take advantage of the culture and remind yourself that this might be your only time in this country for your entire life!
3. Meet locals. Please.
Though Americans are great, part of the reason you chose to study abroad is to become enveloped in the country you are in. One of the best ways to do that is to meet locals! Even though a language barrier might exist, it is crucial to make connections as best you can. Also, an added tip? They can show you around! The locals will not only help you navigate the host country, but chances are they know a lot about traveling elsewhere as well.
4. Learn something.
Sure traveling to the coolest places abroad is amazing, but how many times can you eat paella and take the selfie with the obnoxious dog filter in front of the Plaza Mayor? Take time to hop on a bus tour or go to a museum or a historic building and embed yourself in the culture. One of the most amazing experiences for me thus far was visiting the Prado Museum in Madrid. You’ll have fun while simultaneously becoming a more enriched human. Who knew that was possible?!
5. Realize that things are just different.
“I don’t think we’re in Smithfield anymore, Tupper”. No, you’re not. Once you are abroad you are going to go through a couple of phases. The first is feeling like it is a mini two week vacation and it’s not real. The second is more along the lines of ok I’m actually here for about five months. When in Spain, or Italy, or France, or China, or Prague, you will slowly realize that it will take time to adjust. Do not expect to just feel comfortable immediately. I don’t care if you are the world traveler. Chances are, you haven’t been away from home for this amount of time. The culture is different; the food is different; school is different; people are different; and the list goes on. Expect homesickness. But also realize this is normal. The way to fix it? Get out of your house or residence. Spend time surrounded by people and things can only get more comfortable. Eventually, the hardest part will be the idea of leaving.