5 study abroad tips you can’t ignore
We get you on the right track with top study abroad tips
We get you on the right track with top study abroad tips
You did it! You’ve received your student visa, you’ve enrolled in your chosen university, you’ve gotten the scholarship you applied for, and now you’re off on your study abroad adventure. You can’t wait to experience the rich and exciting culture of the country you’ve chosen to stay in, and you are counting the minutes until your very first class.
School though, even school you are attending as a study abroad student, is always that: school. As much as you want to get out there and see all the sights and make new friends and new memories, you are still going to have to study hard to keep your grades up. Studying doesn’t have to be a bummer though. Here are five tips to make it easier, and to make it almost as entertaining as the things you’d rather be doing!
When most people think about studying, they call to mind images of students poring over books alone in the library or in their room, trying to cram for an exam the next day. Studying is always portrayed as something you do outside of class, in preparation for the next one. The best time to start studying, though, is actually when you are still sitting in the classroom.
The better notes you take in class, the less research you will have to do later, and the less time you will have to spend trying to find answers to the possible questions that may appear on your test or quiz. In spite of the fact that you will be in a new, exciting place with lots to do and lots to see, be attentive in class. The sightseeing can wait. When your professor is speaking, be present and focused and listening. Textbooks and online materials are always important, but remembering the way that a professor pronounced a certain word or described a certain topic can go a long way in helping to trigger your memory later, and can better help you call to mind all of the things you learned in class. So when you are in class, be in class. It will make your studying process easier in the long run.
In America, most professors grade their students based on written tests and papers. In other countries, though, this may not be the case. When you are studying abroad, you will likely encounter professors who teach in a completely different style than what you are used to, and emphasize completely different aspects of learning.
In Italy, for example, most tests are given in two parts: written and oral. The student is expected to write a thorough research paper or thesis, and then present what they learned and answer questions from the professor out loud. Other countries also emphasize public speaking as opposed to writing, or emphasize group work over individual work (or vice versa).
It is important to try to adapt to the style that your professor is using, and to make it work for you. If you are used to simply writing your answers instead of speaking them out loud when it comes time for a test, you may need to put in some extra time after class practicing your speech delivery skills. Just because a teaching style is different doesn’t mean it has to be scary or bad, you just have to adjust your focus a bit to make sure that you can give the professor what he or she wants. If it helps, ask some of the native students to help you study, or ask the professor for some study tips.
Studying is usually lonely work, and most people find that they concentrate better if they do it on their own. However, studying with a partner or a group of other students could be very helpful, especially if you are studying abroad. Not only will studying with a student who has grown up in that particular school system enable you to get a better idea of how and what to focus on when you are studying, but it will also help you to form bonds with new people, who could turn out to be your friends.
Studying abroad can be an alienating experience if you did not come to the school with a group of people you knew from home, and having some other people around you to depend on for help and advice can go a long way toward keeping you happy, and, ultimately, making you a better and more efficient student.
It doesn’t matter what country you are in, being organized when you are studying is always important. When taking notes, have a different notebook or file for each course you are taking. You don’t want to have to search through your history notes to try to find the mathematics equation you need for next week’s test!
Highlighting the things that your professor emphasized in class is also a good idea. If the professor stressed a particular point in more than one class or more than one time, it is very likely that it will be on the exam.
Try to devote a reasonable amount of time to studying each subject you are taking. If you are having more trouble in one subject than in another, by all means spend more time working with that one! But keep in mind that all of your subjects are equally important, and you don’t want to sacrifice your grade in one class for your grade in another.
Also, don’t wait until the last minute to do your homework, to write a paper, or to study for an exam. Try to study a bit each day, so that the material will stay fresh in your mind, and so you won’t have to try to cram everything in the day before you need to apply what you learned.
Studying can be stressful! Spending hours each night reading your class materials and looking through your notes or practicing for upcoming speeches can wear anyone’s nerves to a frazzle. But you must try to find ways to stay relaxed, and to get adequate rest. All of your studying will be for nothing if you are too anxious and exhausted to remember what you learned!
Aside from taking breaks or switching to another subject when you feel your mind getting tired, try to make studying something you enjoy as opposed to something you are forced to do. As suggested earlier, form a study group or find a study buddy to keep your mind sharp and your spirits up. Or combine your longing for sightseeing with your need for studying by finding beautiful places to study outdoors if it is warm, or find a nice library to work in if it is not.
Studying doesn’t have to ruin your fun while you’re studying abroad. You just have to keep these tips in mind, and try to find a way to make it interesting!
Jessica Scott is a University of Louisville graduate with a degree in English and Humanities, specialising in literature, linguistics, and classical and modern languages. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where she has been writing since the age of three. Her first novel, Chase and Charlie, was published in May 2015. Her interests include reading, writing, cooking, and studying Italian.