I thought that I’d catch up the blog in preparation for my next study abroad adventure. My Europe photos have been recovered thanks to my nifty iPod and the more interesting ones should shortly be posted to flickr. As of this post, I am planning on studying abroad in Hikone, Japan for the fall and Cairo, Egypt for the winter. I intend to maintain this blog throughout my year abroad so I thought I’d get a head-start on it and write some of my thoughts about studying abroad gleaned from my stay in Seville, Spain two years ago.
1. Studying abroad is stressful. Yes, I realize this should be rather obvious, but most people disregard this because they are so excited about going abroad. Regardless of how much fun your new home will be, there will be times when you seriously wish you were back home. You will have a difficult time speaking the new language and become frustrated; you won’t understand something in class; you won’t be able to order what you want; you’ll feel alone in a strange environment; and many other situations will occur that while simply fixed in your native country become enormous tasks in the host one. Even simple tasks like shopping require more thought and effort and can be much more tiring than you may think.
2. You need to make an effort to speak the new language. Many times people simply expect that they will speak the language of the host country throughout the whole day and thus will be exposed to and learn the language forthwith. Unfortunately, many things will prevent you from speaking the language you are attempting to learn/master. For example, people from the host country may desire to speak English in order to practice themselves, you will encounter language difficulties and switch to your native language to avoid “unneeded hassle”, you will meet with people from your home country and speak your native language because “it’s easier”. These are quite frankly excuses for not having to go through the embarrassment and difficulty of learning the new language. My advice is to seek out friends from the host country and conversation partners or join a club because all of this will force you to speak the new language. Also, you may want to minimalize the time you spend with your friends from your home country or make a pact to speak only the new language.
Those are the two most important things I can recall at the moment, but I will post some more of my thoughts on study abroad later.