Catch up or get ahead with a summer study abroad program

Published November 4, 2013

A summer session can be just what you need, whether you’re wanting to catch up or get ahead. And earning credits during a summer abroad? Perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bulk up your transcript and your first-hand knowledge of a new locale. Read on for tips of making the most of your trip.

Home Sweet Home

When scouting out where to live, you may have to sacrifice space or amenities for location. Housing in the city center is most likely going to cost more than an apartment in the country, but being closer to the heart of the city, you’ll probably be closer as well to entertainment and restaurants. One thing you should never give up, though - feeling safe and secure in your surroundings.

Three Words: Minimalist Packing and Layers

During your summer study abroad, you don’t want to be loaded down with luggage, making for an uncomfortable and possibly scattered trip. While keeping it light, you’ll want to research beforehand the average temps and climate, packing layers for any unpredictable weather, as well as paying attention to cultural dos and don’ts. If you’ve got a collapsible duffel that will fit at the bottom of your luggage, you may find it handy for checking memorabilia for yourself and others on the trip home.

Speaking of Packing…

For the gals, consider cute Keds or Converse, or a nice pair of flats, in lieu of heels. Cobblestones, stairs, and costly fare rides may be large detractors even in the name of style. Your feet will thank you.

Budget Wisely

Spending time overseas, you may find the U.S. Dollar can stretch pretty far. That being said, expenses accumulate pretty quickly. Keep an eye on what you spend on groceries, transportation, and tchotchkes to take home… it all adds up!

Get a Feel for More Than One City

Take note of the surrounding areas - when traveling through Europe or even parts of Asia, you’ll find fabulous cities connected by a short plane or train ride. And though you may be itching to see what you can find near your host city, don’t forget to explore what you can find in your city!


Do your best to adopt the ways of your new home, getting out and trying your chops with a new language, sampling local dishes, or meshing with new friends and classmates. That also includes reading local literature, taking in featured artists from the area, and studying architecture and habits in the world around you. The more you engage your new surroundings, the more you’ll feel you really experienced your study abroad summer experience.

Get Involved!

Make a point to engross yourself in your host school’s extracurricular clubs and sports, perhaps dissuading feelings of homesickness and loneliness. After all, who has time to feel isolated when they’re so busy?

And Speaking of Homesickness…

Okay, so even the busiest of students may still get homesick, which is totally acceptable. That’s where correspondence, social media, and technology come in handy. Scour local shops for postcards or make your own, write letters or a Facebook message, send an email or Skype, or use Viber to send texts. Just remember to shut off the computer so you can get out there and see the city you’ve traveled so far to be in!

Keep a Blog, Journal, or Scrapbook

Although you’re almost guaranteed to make memories of a lifetime, and it may seem like a time you’ll never forget, don’t take it for granted - there will be details you’ll forget. A journal or blog can help you reminisce over small details from that museum trip or favorite parts of a tour bus jaunt.

Bonnie Bottner has a B.A. in English with a concentration in Communications from the University of Tampa. She has worked in marketing and communications for over ten years, and has taken continuing education courses at Georgetown University and College of Notre Dame of Maryland.