Angelina Jorge concludes her "Mistakes We Made Before Studing Abroad" series with a realistic look at what students need to leave at home, and what they should bring on their journey. Stamina & drive? Bring em'! Impatience & intolerance? No room!
#8.) International Cell Phone Plans. Yay or Nay?
Depending on who your carrier may be, international plans can be expensive. Before investing in minutes/texts you might not need or even use, make sure to ask your professors/tour managers/advisors. Every single place we stayed in Costa Rica had Wi-Fi available to us free of charge. The Wi-Fi was weak, especially when everyone was using it, and you might not have luck loading Netflix; but it was there and that’s what’s important. Communication, especially with your professors/tour managers/advisors, can make the difference between a smooth trip and a painful one.
#9.) Brace Yourself. Sore muscles await you.
It’s very easy not to engage when you feel uncomfortable. The language is different, the activities are new to you, and let’s be real: you’re already going into this tired because there’s never enough time between trimesters. Learning the language can definitely ease the frustration; a simple hello, goodbye, left, right, please and thank you will go a long way. And preparing yourself for those excursions (i.e. researching, asking questions) can make it easier for you to enjoy participating.
But the real key to making your experience worthwhile depends on how much stamina and drive you brought with you. Knowing everything there is to know about hiking, horseback riding, white water rafting, ziplining, etc. can only get you so far if you’ve never spent a single afternoon off your couch. And without the motivation and persistence to not only acquire but retain all those new foreign words you just learned, you’ll never make headway towards bilingualism.
You need stamina. As if 11 weeks wasn’t short enough for 13.5 credits, a summer term in Costa Rica only lasts five. The days and evenings are fully scheduled and non-negotiable, they will be taxing on your brain and body. So make sure to pack some extra endurance for your muscles and persistence for your mind.
#10.) What to leave behind (trust me, you won’t need it):
No matter which program you are a part of, there is a comprehensive list of ingredients you do not want to add to your experience:
- Impatience /Intolerance
- Willingness to Give Up
- Close Mindedness/Preconceived Notions
- “Me, Myself, and I” Mentality
- Reluctance/Unwillingness to try new things (especially food)
- All around negativity
These are the things that will ruin your experience, everyone else’s experience, your grade, your ability to learn and grow and prosper; it just ruins everything. And if you are serious about making the commitment to study abroad, to better yourself, and to come back a new person, then leave those things behind and pack some extra sanity instead.
Read all of Angelina Jorge's honest accounts of her JWU study abroad experience. Follow her student blog.