What Are Your Study Abroad Resolutions?

Sierra Elmore First Year Experience Stirling, Scotland


January 4, 2016

As an INFP, Ravenclaw, and Virgo, you could argue that I was born to plan and organize. Obviously, this means I’ve created a ton of lists, goals, and Dropbox folders (okay, only one) to plan ahead for my Scotland First Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) journey.

One of the most important parts of that is my personal goals for study abroad. That sounds really boring written out, but hear me out for a second. You’re studying abroad not just to experience a new school system or country...you’re also studying abroad to explore your personal limits and have life-changing experiences. So below, I’m discussing some of my plans for next semester as well as how you can come up with goals of your own.

Travel: Fill at least thirty pages of my new travel journal

Thanks to an idea from my FYSAE mentor, I created a travel journal that’ll be my companion as I go through Europe. I want to document as many experiences as I can, even my first walk around the University of Stirling campus. So far, I have a travel bucket list in there, but other pages I hope to add include: maps of places I visit, advice/nice things written by the people I meet, and reflections on my journeys.

Creative: Write at least fifty pages of my third novel

Since Scotland has less weekly lecture/seminar time and assignments than Arcadia, and I won’t be working, I’ll likely have more time to devote to my personal interests. One of my favorite hobbies is creative writing, but I haven’t spent as much time on this lately as I would like. I want to get back into the swing of things again by writing a good chunk of my third book. The basic plot is about a girl who recently graduated college and is figuring her life out; I may have to add some Scottish adventures to the plot as well!

Career: Conduct an Independent Research Project

This summer, I’m hoping to score a behavioral research internship. To get a head start, I want to research either poverty in Scotland or a feminist perspective of Henry VIII and his six wives to learn proper research methodology (okay, and because research is my idea of fun). These UK-centric topics will help me learn more about my interests as well as the area I’m studying, so it’s definitely a win-win situation!

Planning Tips

  • Make several goals, but don’t make them too ambitious. Or, if you do want to create huuuuugggeeee goals like I did, realize they may not be accomplished in one semester. That’s okay - just try to make some progress, and you’re set!
  • Set one or two goals in “major areas” of your life. These areas can include: academic, relationships, career, travel, creative, personal development, health, and whatever else you deem to be important. This makes sure your experiences are well rounded and not focused on one particular facet of your life.
  • Have travel goals? Make sure you create a budget and plan ahead to make sure they can come true. If you know where you plan to go before you go, make extra steps to save money (like working a side job, freelancing, or even donating blood plasma) and make the experience as amazing as possible.
  • Everything will not go according to plan during travel. Once, I created the simplest route imaginable: an Uber ride to 30th Street Station, which would lead me directly to a bus home. I ended up missing my bus. And losing my student ID, meaning I couldn’t take a train home either. So plan away to your heart’s content, but also remember that things will go wrong, you’ll take detours, and you’ll mess up. That’s all part of what travel is. In the end, you’ll do just fine - and have even more memorable experience.