Tips for Transitioning from South Bend to a Semester Abroad

Author: Randi McQueen

As the fall semester has quickly come to a close, students are headed home for the holidays and winter break. But in just a few weeks, many juniors will be saying goodbye to their friends and families for an adventure abroad for the duration of spring semester. Making this transition from the “Notre Dame bubble” to life in London, Dublin, Perth, Athens, and many more different cities across a variety of continents may not always be so simple. Here are a few of my tips to make the most out of being abroad I’ve learned after spending fall semester in Rome, Italy.

1. Be Open-Minded to New People

 More likely than not, you will be surrounded by a new group of people and not your usual group of friends you have grown to love freshman and sophomore years. But good news! This is an incredible opportunity to make new friends you will soon bond with over sharing new experiences. There is nothing quite like being abroad that sparks the best friendships.

roman forum

2. Learn When to Travel and When to Stay

One of the most exciting things about studying abroad is having the freedom to travel during breaks and weekends. However, you will soon learn how exhausting traveling can be, especially if you are on a budget. Six am flights followed by long bus rides back into the city quickly get old. If you aren’t ahead of your schoolwork, this makes travel even more stressful. Learn your limits.

3. Don’t Procrastinate

To go along with the above point, it is vital to stay on top of schoolwork when there is so much to do and see. Unlike the extreme South Bend winters, you will likely be studying abroad in a place with a milder climate, so you will want to be outside. Make the most of every spare minute you have to finish up your work so you can enjoy your free time without a care.

Randi in Amsterdam

4. Spend your Money on Experiences

More than ever before, you will be tempted to shop and spend money on material things because there will be new stores and unique goods abroad. Instead of buying that purse or jacket in London, spend that money on a weekend trip to Belgium or a boat ride along the Thames. There will always be shopping, but you’ll never forget the experiences you will make abroad.

Get ready for a fun-filled semester full of adventures, excitement, freedom, and a greater appreciation for a new culture. The semester will fly by before you know it, so make the most of each and every day. Soon you will be on a plane back to America, and you will be counting down the days until you return.