4 Top Tips for Your Freshman Year Abroad

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Admissions, Student Life

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Studying abroad in college can be a life-changing experience, but it comes with its fair share of challenges. Your freshman year abroad, as you adjust to your new life in unfamiliar environment, is bound to be the toughest.

Adjusting to a new culture, making friends, and navigating the academic system can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to have a smoother transition in your freshman year abroad.

To help you do just that, we’ve compiled some of the most effective tips and strategies for making the most of your first year of college abroad.

With these suggestions, you can make the most of your study abroad experience and create lasting memories and friendships.

Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities, Clubs, and Organizations

Extracurricular activities, clubs, and organizations are a great way to meet other students and make friends while studying abroad. Here are specific tips to help you get involved in these types of groups:

  • Attend club fairs and information sessions to learn about the different groups on campus. Information sessions are typically held at the beginning of the semester. Make sure to attend.
  • Look for groups that align with your interests, hobbies, and career goals. Such groups will help you find like-minded people with whom you can connect.
  • Be proactive and reach out to group leaders or members to learn more about their activities and how you can get involved.
  • Volunteer for leadership roles within the group, such as becoming a member of the executive board. Leadership positions in clubs and organizations in school can help you build relationships with other members and gain valuable experience.
  • Attend events and meetings regularly to build relationships with other members and stay engaged in the group’s activities.
  • Be open to trying new activities and groups even if you’re not entirely sure if it’s for you. Being open to new experiences can open you up to new opportunities.

Remember to balance your involvement in extracurricular activities with your academic responsibilities. Your involvement in extracurricular activities shouldn’t come at the expense of your studies.

Learn the Local Language

Studying abroad can lead to culture shock. By learning the local language, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to your new surroundings during your freshman year abroad.

Learning the language will not only help you navigate day-to-day life but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and gain a deeper understanding of the country.

Here are some suggestions to help you learn the language spoken in your host country:

  • Take a language class: Many universities offer language classes for international students. Sign up for such classes and make a commitment to attend regularly and practice speaking and listening as much as possible.
  • Find a language partner: Look for a language partner – ideally, your language partner should be a native speaker of the language you’re trying to learn. You can practice speaking with them and they can help you with grammar and vocabulary.
  • Immerse yourself in the language: Try to surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Watch movies, listen to music, and read books in the language you’re trying to learn.
  • Learn about the culture: Take the time to learn about the country’s customs, traditions, and history. Read books, watch documentaries, and talk to locals to gain a deeper understanding of the culture.
  • Experience the culture firsthand: Join local cultural events, festivals, and groups. Doing so will give you a chance to experience the culture firsthand, practice the language and make local friends.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: Remember that making mistakes is part of the learning process. Don’t be afraid to practice speaking, even if you’re not fluent yet.

Learning the language and culture of the country you’re studying in is a valuable and rewarding experience. It will allow you to connect with locals and fully immerse yourself in the culture, which will make your time abroad more enriching and enjoyable.

Get to Know Your Professors

Getting to know your professors and building relationships with them can help you make the most of your freshman year abroad.

Professors can be a valuable resource for:

  • Academic advice
  • Career guidance
  • Networking opportunities

Below are some tips for getting to know your professors and building strong relationships with them:

  • Attend office hours: Office hours are a great opportunity to meet with your professors one-on-one and ask questions about the course material or any other concerns you may have.
  • Participate in class: Speak up in class, ask questions, and contribute to class discussions. Doing so will show your professors that you’re engaged and interested in the material.
  • Seek extra help: If you’re struggling with the course material, don’t be afraid to ask your professors for assistance. They’ll appreciate your willingness to put in extra effort to succeed.
  • Take advantage of research opportunities: Many professors are involved in research projects and may be looking for students to assist them. This is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience and build a relationship with a professor.
  • Network: Professors often have connections in the field you’re studying, they can help you with internships, job opportunities or graduate school applications.
  • Respect their time: Professors are busy and they may not always be able to meet with you immediately. Respect their time and schedule an appointment in advance.

Building relationships with your professors can be a valuable asset while studying abroad. They can be a valuable resource for academic advice, career guidance, and even networking opportunities.

Take advantage of office hours and other opportunities to build relationships with your professors, it will make your freshman year abroad more enriching and enjoyable.

Be Proactive in Seeking Out Support Resources

Schools abroad have plenty of resources for their students, some specifically meant for international students. These resources help international students navigate the academic and social aspects of studying abroad.

Your freshman year abroad is the best time to get well-acquainted will all the resources and take full advantage of them.

Here are some helpful tips

  • Reach out to the international student office: Many universities have an office specifically for international students. This office can provide information and resources on everything from immigration and visa issues to housing and cultural events.
  • Take advantage of orientation programs: Many study abroad programs and universities offer orientation programs for international students. These programs provide valuable information and resources to help you adjust to your new environment.
  • Meet with academic advisors: Meet with academic advisors to discuss your course schedule and to make sure you’re on track to meet your academic goals.
  • Utilize student support services: Many universities offer student support services such as counseling and tutoring. These services can be helpful if you’re struggling with the academic or social aspects of studying abroad.
  • Join a support group: Many universities have support groups for international students. Joining a support group can be a great way to connect with other students who are going through similar experiences.
  • Make use of online resources: Many universities and study abroad programs have online resources such as FAQs and guides that can help you navigate the academic and social aspects of studying abroad.

Being proactive in seeking out resources, support, and assistance can help you have a smoother transition. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support.

In conclusion, there’s a lot that you can do to have an easier time during your freshman year abroad. By being proactive, you can use your first year abroad to build an exceptional study abroad experience.


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