How to Balance Work and Play While Studying Abroad

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Enjoying the sunset on Zanzibar Island! If you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go abroad during your undergraduate studies, you’ll be rewarded with experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.  Though your studies come first, you’ll want to make sure you play a little too! Here is some advice to consider in order to balance your work and play time overseas as you study abroad:

First things first: Your work has to come first.  It’s the primary reason you are studying abroad, and the grades that you earn will ultimately find a home on your transcript.  Don’t let the excitement and novelty of a new environment distract you from your main purpose – getting an education.  If you are planning to pursue a medical career, studying abroad will allow you the opportunity to learn how to be flexible and adaptable in changing situations with diverse groups of people.  The grades that you earn will boost your GPA, and the experiences you have will enhance your medical school application.  Create a daily schedule for yourself so that you are managing your time and workload.  Once you have mastered your coursework, you’ll be ready to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the country in which you are studying.

See the sites:  When you study abroad, you’re sure to be surrounded by a wealth of historical and cultural offerings.  Exploring the well-known sites around you will ground in the culture and history of your adopted city.  Museums, monuments, architecture, and other tourist attractions are all vital for a well-rounded experience when studying abroad.  You can’t study in Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower, right? You’ve got to see Big Ben if you study abroad in London, yes?  When you schedule these activities between your classes, you’ll enjoy a comprehensive study abroad experience.

Now play! Once you’ve figured out how to manage your time to excel in your studies, and you’ve explored the sites of your home-away-from-home, it’s time to play.  Play means different things to different people depending on their interests.  If you’re a foodie, you’ll want to explore the restaurant scene abroad – keep it budget-friendly and see how thrifty you can be as you delight in the culinary arts of your adopted city.  If sports are your thing, most major cities have professional sports teams; enjoy the camaraderie of the sports crowd in your town. And yes, every town has some type of club or party scene, and here is one area in which you’ll want to be careful. Explore this type of “play” with your classmates and local friends; venturing out alone, at least in the early days of your study abroad, can be risky.

Exploring the jungle by elephant!Don’t forget some downtime: We all love to work hard and play hard, but remember that rest is crucial to your study abroad experience as well.  If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, make sure that you balance that with rest and replenishment.  Sleep is important, of course, but so is exercise and healthy eating. Be sure to set aside some weekly time to recharge your batteries.

Are you ready to book your flight? If studying abroad sounds right for you, start planning now for the adventure of a lifetime! — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.

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