​14 Experiences Students Have While In Study-Abroad Limbo

​14 Experiences Students Have While In Study-Abroad Limbo

"Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Study abroad programs offer students the opportunity to earn institutional credit taking courses at a foreign or domestic partner institution. With the exception of travel and personal expenses, students usually can study abroad for the same cost of attending their home institution. Add to those factors encouragement from professors and study-abroad grants offered internally and externally, you almost have to work harder not to study abroad. If you go, you will learn more about yourself, for better or worse, than you would have staying at home. Whether you spend your time embarking on meticulously planned adventures or go in blind with no other goal than having the time of your life, here are 14 experiences you most certainly will return having had:

1. Packing the essentials

It’s amazing both how much and how little two 50-lbs suitcases will hold. With clothing especially, luggage volume is the biggest issue, and bed sheets are the worst culprit. Be prepared to buy sheets as soon as you arrive, or prepare for nights spent freezing in your room as you attempt to fight frostbite and sleep.

2. Learning to navigate with a map

This is a valuable life skill you probably will only learn away from home. Because your phone will die while you are exploring the city. Bonus points for running out of juice despite bringing an extra battery. (Negative points if you bring it but forgot to charge it.)

3. Taking more pictures than you ever have

If you were not a photographer before your study abroad, you will become one. If you do not, you will regret it. The same goes for journaling. Your study abroad might be once-in-a-lifetime, which means your photos and memories will be too, so chronicle as much as possible.

4. Having fun away from home friends

It’s hard to imagine, but you can have a good time away from your best friends at college. That doesn’t mean you will miss them less, but it’s comforting to know you can find good people everywhere.

5. Managing long-distance relationships

Whether with friends or significant others, the LDR struggle is real. Keeping a blog helps keep people up-to-date, because FaceTime will kill your battery (if your exploring hasn’t already). Most impressive are students with S.O.’s keeping up with a 13-hour time difference. And Couple of the Year goes to . . .

6. Struggling to make the most of the experience

The desire to immerse yourself in the local culture is strong. Resist it. You have too much to do, and it’s easy to forget the first part of “work-life balance” is the reason you can have a life. Content yourself with tourist-level immersion until you eventually move there. (Because you’re actually studying there to find your dream house.)

7. Learning the customs of other cultures

Wherever you are, odds are you will run into students from other countries spending a semester abroad. This is the perfect opportunity to go out for dinner with your international friends and play truth-or-dare. It’s a fun way to get to know your colleagues personally and about their respective culture generally. (Pro tip: “Yo mama” jokes know no cultural boundaries. Nor does freestyle rap.)

8. Meeting people from your hometown

It’s a small world after all. 1000 miles from home, you can still meet someone who’s been to Terre Haute, Indiana. Which reminds you . . .

9. Remembering to call home

Probably unnecessary because the fam will be calling incessantly, but it’s nice to call every now and then to show you care as well. Plus, your frequent calls will tire them out eventually so they stop calling so often. And if not, you might learn calling home isn’t so bad, now is it?

10. Adapting old habits to a new location

Eating habits especially. Unless you have the time and means to travel to the grocer’s and cook for yourself, you should take what you can get. If you’re allergic to a laundry list of ingredients, consider a university program instead of a homestay. Nothing is more embarrassing than routinely refusing the cooking of your host family. Mother will not be happy.

11. Taking the wrong bus

For two hours. While hangry. With a dead cellphone. But after the first time, you’ll never make that mistake again (at least for another week).

12. Fully appreciating your knowledge of the English language

Two speakers of different native languages started dating after one visited the other’s home country. How did they start a relationship not knowing the other’s native language? Duh, they both spoke English. Can we add English to the list of romance languages please?

13. Receiving homework assignments about your study abroad experience

You mean I get credit hours for having fun at historical landmarks and national parks? Hi, I’d like to request a course overload please.

14. Returning home a different person

All experience results in change. Your study abroad may be a unique time of personal growth and discovery. Don’t be surprised when you return home if you have left a part of yourself in the country where you studied. If you do that, then no matter where you are, you’ll always be studying abroad.

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.


1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten

Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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Coping With The Loss Of A Passion

It's hard to get it back once you lose it.


In college, time to focus on passions seems limited. The homework, essays, group projects, and exams are never-ending.

In high school, I took my free time for granted. I was dancing four hours four nights a week, but I wasn't constantly stressed. I had time to focus on my passion, which is dance.

In college, I am a part of an amazing dance club. But I don't get to compete, take technique classes, or be with the team I was with since I was 8 years old. Now, I receive videos of my team from home's amazing performances, and it aches a bit. I am so proud and happy for their growth but jealous that they have more years than I do. It is nearly impossible to find technique classes at college to take with no car, little free time, and barely any money. I miss my team, I miss my dance teachers and choreographers, and I miss competitions, but most of all, I miss the person I was when I had the opportunity to pursue my passion several hours a week.

My passion will always be there, and I do get to pursue dance on a smaller scale with some amazing dancers in college, but I am coping with the fact that I will never do another competition with my team again, I will never be able to dance with them again, and I will never be able to learn from my dance teachers again. It's a hard loss, one that I think about every day.

To anyone who still has the opportunities to pursue their passions to the fullest extent, you are lucky. Not everyone gets the chance to keep up with their sport, passion, or activity that they dedicated all of their time to in high school. Don't take a single second of it for granted, and remember why you are doing what you are doing. Take time to reflect on why you love it so much, how it makes you feel, and how you can express yourself during it. Whatever this passion or activity is, make every second count.

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