Summer is almost upon us! I know lots of university students are either in finals week or dreading its rapid approach. I went abroad last summer to Chengdu, China, and I'm heading to Geneva/London this summer! So, I feel like I have a bit of experience at this whole summer studying thing. By the time I graduate in spring 2017 (assuming all goes well), I'll have basically been going to school for three years straight. While it's kind of an exhausting route to take, I decided it was the best one for me. I've created a list of tips for studying abroad during the summer (though I'm sure it applies to all study abroad experiences to an extent).
1) Even though it's a summer program, expect to work hard.
I'm sure difficulty levels vary between programs, but I was surprised about how much studying I ended up doing in China. I took what would be considered a half course load here at BU, and I still ended up putting significant study time in. While it was fun to study at public parks and teahouses, it was definitely studying.
2) The pacing is different to what you're used to at home.
I'm pretty sure this is the case in all summer classes... but anyways, because you're squeezing a semester's worth of material into a few short weeks, expect the pacing of your classes to be faster! I loved it because I get bored in class easily, but it may be rough for some people.
3) Don't freak out if you're a different person studying abroad then you were at home.
At some point during my time in China, 7/9 of us had some form of an identity crisis. Mine was trying to figure out exactly how Chinese I wanted to be. One guy was trying to decide if he wanted to be with his girlfriend anymore. Another person was debating about switching her major to Chinese. Study abroad takes you out of your comfortable environment and plops you into something new and alien. I was a lot more outgoing in China than I am here in the United States. I think it's normal to act a little differently overseas!
4) Don't overpack.
I deliberately underpacked when I went to China and I still ended up bringing stuff I didn't touch for the duration of my study abroad. Depending on the country and your relative size, buying clothes overseas can be a breeze or nearly impossible. So while bringing clothes is important, consider what you can buy while overseas. Every country has shampoo, toothpaste, hangers and hairdryers. Don't waste space in your luggage unless you're completely brand dedicated. Also, no one cares if you re-wear your clothes. Go for multipurpose items and dress for the climate.
5) Prepare for an experience of a lifetime.
I firmly believe that studying abroad is one of the best things any student can do because it forces you to think outside the box and in a global setting. It is amazing how differently people live their lives in different countries... and the lessons you can learn from that. Take advantage of the country you're in.
This picture is how I describe China to people without words. There's more people than you can imagine and more handphones than anyone knows what to do with! But it was definitely an amazing experience and I'm very lucky that I was able to go. I'm sure Europe this summer will also be an excellent experience.