Advice to other First Generation College students
Ask someone when you’re unsure about something:
When I’m not sure about something, I usually just take some time and try to figure it out myself. Looking back, I wish I had been more proactive initially in seeking out answers to my questions, but at the same, everything is very overwhelming initially and it’s okay to take a step back from everything to ground yourself.
It’s okay if you aren’t best friends with everyone else in your program:
While it’s true that you’ll probably become great friends with other U.S. students in your program, it’s important to remember that as in any group, after the initial honeymoon period, small friend groups form and tensions may develop between individuals. At the same time, it’s okay if your time abroad isn’t enough to become close friends with locals (who may quickly deem you as an outsider) but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.
Design your schedule according to what you want to do:
Don’t take too many classes, especially if they are in a foreign language. For these classes, you’ll need more time to complete all of the work and you still need time to experience the country that you are staying in. If you want to travel a lot on weekends, try to leave your Monday or Friday free. I have classes on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Enough though my Friday class has meant I haven’t gone on some trips, I like having a free Wednesday, especially since Monday and Tuesday are my busiest two days.
Don’t focus too much on what you’re missing:
Odds are, you’re going to miss a lot (good and bad) back home and at school when you’re abroad. It’s best not to focus on all of this too much, or else you risk missing opportunities. Things are going to happen without you around, just try to focus on the incredible experience that being abroad is.
Lazy days are okay:
I feel like there is this expectation that when you’re abroad, you’re always going to be travelling and doing really cool stuff. I’ve done enough travelling for me and I’ve had plenty of days to just relax and watch Netflix and I’m not alone. It can be physically and mentally exhausting to be abroad and it’s okay to take some time to just relax.
It’s not perfect:
Everyone always says that their abroad experience is amazing, because being abroad and experiencing a different country and culture firsthand is amazing. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be times when it’s hard and you would prefer to be back home, especially if you see all of your friends back home finishing classes and you still have another month to go. Or you have incredible summer plans and you have to constantly keep planning ahead for everything. It’s important to try to focus on other things and to not let these things prevent you from doing more cool things abroad.