A Balancing Beam: Social Life and School Life When Abroad
Finding a balance can be hard when you’re abroad because there is so much to do. When I first got here I found the balance of travel, social activities, and exploring my new city against the measly task of homework pretty difficult and daunting. I realized I was going to have to find a method to the madness so I could enjoy my time. It’s easy to forget about the “study” part of studying abroad to be completely honest. Here are some of the strategies I have come up with to combat this obstacle, I hope you find them helpful in your battles with balance.
- Make studying/doing work an event: In Italy, and most European countries, there are cafes EVERYWHERE. Making it a fun part of your day will encourage you to get the work done. I like to go before or after my classes and just grind out the work until I can’t anymore. Most times other people are doing work right alongside you and it’s nice to be in an environment where everyone has the same goal.
- Pace yourself: Trying to get all your work done the night before your weekend trip is probably the worst thing you can do for yourself. I have found that finding any free time in my day and getting bits done at a time has helped me keep up with my work tremendously. Even if it's just 20 minutes, in that 20 minutes you can write a whole paragraph of your essay if you just take that small chunk of time to focus purely on school.
- Take Rest Days! : As much as you want to go, go, go, you still need to take rest days while abroad. I try to take at least one day a week if I can, where I just chill and don’t worry about anything. Granted, there were weeks where this wasn't possible but if you have the opportunity to rest, take it. As much as I encourage going out and seeing everything, you will get burnt out if you don’t take a breather.
- Plan Travel Ahead of Time: This is huge!! I made the mistake of not doing much planning ahead of time and kind of just doing it along the way. But I would have saved myself a lot of stress and money if I would have planned. If you don't book far enough ahead of time the prices will often increase, which happened to me a lot. It could've been avoided if I had planned. I would recommend mapping out the places you want to see before you leave the program and then based on your schedule (and the number of skip days you have), plan accordingly.
In general, finding a balance in life is key. But, when you’re abroad it can feel amplified because of all the new overwhelming opportunities. Take advantage of everything while also being smart about your work - work hard, play hard.