Budgeting Your Time While Abroad
In the first week or so of your time abroad, it may seem as though the world has opened unlimited opportunities. However, once you fall into a semi-normal routine, your time will begin to fly at seemingly unmanageable speeds. If you don’t schedule your time, you’ll be on the plane home before you can blink twice, wondering why you never took the time to visit the castle five minutes from your house or try that peculiar food you saw in every shop.
It is important to come up with your personal list of time priorities. Be intentional with your time. Think back on your days, and make sure you are happy investing your time on your top priorities.
Here are a few categories of things you will need to budget your time for:
1. Time to study. This might seem obvious, but once you are abroad, it is unbelievably easy to be overwhelmed with the newness of your life in general and forget that you are there to study abroad. Don’t let your school assignments fall by the wayside until the last minute. That will lead to stressing and cramming on assignments at the end of the year, when you could be enjoying friendships you’ve developed.
2. Time to explore. Don’t just live in a new place, explore every inch of it. It helps a lot if you research before you go. Make a bucket list of the must-see attractions in your city and the best day trips nearby. It is easy to get distracted by your daily routine if you don’t set aside time to explore.
3. Time to make friends. Don’t forget: Building lasting relationships takes time. What does that look like? It might mean offering to cook one of your favorite home dishes for new friends. It might mean chilling at a café debating with classmates after a particularly polarizing lecture.
Also, it is a good idea to politely ask for help in assimilating to your friend’s culture. Be open to discussing culture shock with coursemates and acquaintances. Meet up before or after class to share a coffee and a language lesson. In most cases, your new friends will appreciate your interest in their culture and will be willing to help.
4. Time to stay connected. You don’t need to totally abandon your friends and family back at home, but schedule your time on video chat and social media so it doesn’t get out of hand. You are here to have new experiences and meet new people. Consider limiting when you allow yourself to be on social media.
5. Time to stay healthy. It is easy to let your health habits slide when you are busy taking in a new place. Find fun and locally popular ways to stay healthy. You could try running or take long walks around your city in the morning before classes. Also, consider local exercise classes or an informal sport league as another avenue to meet new friends and learn something about the local culture.
Pro tip: If you enjoy sports, take a class or find a group of friends willing to teach you the basics of the most important local sports.
6. Time to reflect. Studying abroad will force you out of your comfort zone again and again. As you navigate many a new circumstance, be conscious about your experiences. Take the time to take care of yourself, reflecting on changes and recording your observations. Meditating, journaling, or otherwise recording and managing the pains and joys you experience will help you stay sane. It will also help you turn those hard times into lessons learned and channel fresh experiences into personal growth.
Now you know how you budget your time. In our next lesson, we will discuss tips on how to properly document the adventure of your life!
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