Surviving While Studying Abroad

american students in europe

Before heading out of the country I heard a lot of “Do Not’s.” To me this is very negative. “Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t stay out late. Don’t go where you don’t know. Don’t forget anything. Don’t be an ‘annoying’ American. Don’t wear North Face Jackets. Don’t wear athletic clothes. Don’t wear tennis shoes everywhere. Don’t bring a fancy camera. Don’t look like a tourist. Don’t talk loud. Don’t be over-excited.” *

I Broke all Those Rules

1. I’m American and have a lack of foreign language experience
2. I LOVE taking pictures
3. My bubbly personality gets very excited
4. I wanted to wear comfy shoes
5. Athletic clothes make up 90% of my wardrobe
6. Guess what?! It rained. My jacket is a North Face.
7. Sometimes strangers had the best advice
8. Staying out late to see the Eiffel Tower with friends was the best
9. I forgot things, like vitamin C and extra conditioner

My Advice to Anyone Studying Abroad

  • ASK lots of questions
  • BE your beautiful self and embrace the culture
  • BE positive
  • BE adventurous
  • BE friendly
  • BE prepared with phone/camera chargers
  • BE prepared for crazy weather
  • DO bond with the leaders (they know what they’re doing!!)
  • DO bring foreign currency with you
  • DO bring an extra pen and pencil (maybe even paper)
  • DO check that your credit card has no foreign fees (it’s a lifesaver!)
  • DO check exchange rates
  • DO go somewhere unplanned
  • DO get slightly lost in Venice
  • DO take lots of pictures
  • DO make memories with people who were strangers at the beginning of the seminar
  • DO wear what you want (remember business clothes though!)
  • DO write down your daily activities
  • DO take notes during the seminar
  • DO have discretion with your cell phone
  • DO make new friends
  • DO post to social media (people will want to know you’re safe!)
  • DO start your paper on the trip (at least an outline)
  • DO try new food
  • DO try something a local suggests
  • DO video record some of your activities
  • DO ask for business cards
  • DO grow your LinkedIn network
  • DO make sure you have a LinkedIn

*Although I do suggest NOT losing your passport. Locking it up in a bag or safe is always a good idea. Sometimes having it on you 100% of the time isn’t the safest route.

Studying abroad should be a positive experience! It becomes a looming experience when people start saying, “Don’t, beware, look out for, etc.…” This isn’t an experience to be scared away from. Embrace all the positives! You have been given the opportunity to travel to a foreign country and meeting with first-class businesses. This type of seminar isn’t an option for a lot of business students, so take advantage of all this has to offer.

There are many staff members accompanying you, who have done these trips before. Utilize their knowledge to make the best of your trip. Make friends with other students, but don’t get sucked into the same group. It’s okay to break off, if another group is going somewhere you want to go. Don’t sacrifice what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance because you don’t know someone.

The business meetings are not intimidating. Talk to the speaker(s) at the end of a presentation if you have further questions, or would like to add them to join your network. Dress professionally and be ready to take notes. The more information you have regarding a subject the easier it will be to write about for your paper. It’s easier to cut-down than to try and come up with more material. Be yourself and you’ll have the best time possible on your trip.

Anna Liljas View Full Bio

School: California Lutheran University

In each country we met with one to two businesses and had plenty of free time to explore. No other program offered this kind of itinerary.

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