Surviving School While Studying Abroad

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Sometimes it seems like the least important part of studying abroad is, well… the studying. When a new country, new friends, and new experiences are just waiting for you to enjoy them, it can seem impossible to remember to take care of schoolwork at the same time. Lots of students that travel abroad will say that they learned more outside the classroom, after all. But here are some tips to help prioritize that pesky coursework.

take interesting classes

Often you’ll have some flexibility about what you take. Try and enrol for courses that really catch your interest. Introductory courses are rarely much fun and can be easy to ignore; if a class is challenging but exciting, you’re more likely to want to spend time on the work.

befriend profs and classmates

This will make you accountable for going to the classes. If the professor knows who you are, they’ll notice if you’re missing, especially in smaller classroom settings. Befriending classmates means you have someone to sit with, study with, and go for after-class drinks with. Where’s the downside to that?!

make study trips

When you have a free afternoon, pack up your study materials and catch a train or bus to somewhere interesting. Work on the trip over, and then find yourself a nice beach, cafe, or library to settle down in. The change in location will keep things fresh. I did this with Penzance, on my days off. I would take the 2-hour train ride down, take a walk on the beach, then sit in a cafe and work until it was time to train back home. Much more fun than sitting in a dorm room working!

live close to campus

This may be difficult, depending on your situation, but the closer to campus the better. If you have a big walk or bus ride ahead of you, it’s much easier to just hit the snooze button, especially on bad-weather days. If the distance is shorter you’re much more likely to muster up the strength to attend class.

You’ll be glad that you went to class and did your assignments once you are back home, and you remember that your time abroad still shows up on your transcript (unless you are lucky enough to have a pass/fail system!) Different school systems can be hard to integrate into, such as the ones in Canada and England. Remember that the bare minimum is attending class, and you’ll be able to figure out the rest as you go along!


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