Career Strategy Fellowships Study Abroad Summer Session MyCIPE

Make the Most of Your Time Abroad

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While Abroad

How your study abroad experience unfolds depends on how engaged you are in the preparation process. Students who take the time to read available resources, think about their specific goals and then act accordingly on instructions (whether applying to a specific program or obtaining the appropriate visa) are more engaged in their own learning and likely to have a better experience – despite the inevitable challenges they might face abroad. Here are a number of strategies to consider for making the most of your time abroad.

  • Learn as much as possible about your host country before you go.
  • Look for the logical reasons why things are done or perceived differently in your host country. What are the historical, economic, religious, or social reasons for these differences?
  • Meet local people with whom you can discuss the differences between the local culture and your own.
  • Learn as much as possible about local viewpoints and customs – this means going beyond newspapers and television.
  • Expect change, difference and ambiguity. These are learning opportunities rather than problems to overcome. During much of your time abroad, especially at the beginning, you will not completely understand how things work or what they mean. Learn to be comfortable with not knowing all the answers and even failing at some tasks; you should also ask people for help.
  • From time to time, remind yourself of your reasons for going abroad. Cultural learning is never an easy process, and it is largely by feeling uncomfortable that you will learn the most, both about the host culture and about yourself.

Upon Return

Many study abroad alumni say that their time abroad was their “best semester at Yale.” Remember that what you just experienced was not a break, but a critical period of intellectual engagement. Rather than viewing your time abroad as a fond memory to put in a box on a shelf, think about the many ways that you can incorporate your new perspectives and experience into your final semesters on campus. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Continue your language study
  • Re-prioritize your extra-curricular involvement
  • Take classes related to new academic interests, or undertake a research project
  • See Yale’s culture with a new perspective and fresh eyes
  • Share what you’ve learned, whether it’s an informal conversation with friends, or a class presentation
  • Consider going abroad again, such as applying for an international internship or a fellowship opportunity

Next Steps

Stay connected. Reach out to fellow study abroad alums at Yale to continue the conversation.