8 Most Common Regrets Of Study Abroad Alumni

1. I should have let loose earlier.

Many people said they stayed in their comfort zone for too long. Many built surrogate homes, only ventured within a few blocks of their housing, or shopped at the same place everyday. Many study abroad alumni said that they did eventually break out of their shell and that is when the real experience began.

2. I wish I hadn’t lived with someone I knew and roomed with a stranger.

Many people study abroad with people they know. Resist the urge to build your life together. Having a contact in your new home will be fantastic, but meeting new people will be even better.

3. I didn’t spend enough time with my host family.

Studying abroad is anything but boring. There are plenty of activities; new sites, tastes, places to see, and people to meet are everywhere. While this is sort of the point, many people ended up flying from one thing to the next the whole time. Alumni sited not spending enough time with their host family as a regret.

Those little moments at home can be just as great as the out-and-about part and often create some of the best memories. People who didn’t make this mistake still talk to their host families, plan on visiting them, and felt very comfortable during their time abroad. Also, homestays often include meals which may be eaten with the family. This results in some of the best language practice you can get not to mention delicious meals and inside jokes.

4. I thought about home quite a bit and pictured everyone exactly the same. 

Something that makes time abroad difficult and returning even harder is not just thinking about home, but HOW you think about home. Many students say that a major issue was envisioning home exactly as they had left it. They pictured friends in the same booth, ordering the same meals, dating the same people, and listening to the same music. The truth is their life is moving along just like yours. If you picture dropping back into life just as you left it, you are setting yourself up for a rude awakening and some serious reverse culture shock.

5. I had the best intentions, but didn’t take enough pictures or record anything.

Intentions are about as useful as a square wheel. So many students start a journal or create a blog only to come home with two entries. Taking just a little time to record your experiences will be priceless after you return home. So much is happening; it will be hard to keep it all straight.

Take just a 10 to 15 minutes a day or every few days to say a little about how you are feeling, a person you met, or place you visited. It can also serve as a great resource for future trips! You don’t want to forget the name of that awesome restaurant you found or that tour guide that made the trip.

6. I should have tried harder to learn the language.

This is your chance. It is profoundly easy to cling to every bit of English you can find whether it’s in a roommate or on the TV. If you’re program is taught in English in a country with a different national language, it is important to put in a little effort. Many programs will include language lessons or groups. Make yourself communicate in the language on the streets and avoid spending time with ONLY fellow English speakers.

7. I didn’t really do anything on campus.

Extracurriculars, clubs, festivals, and other on-campus opportunities will be available. Looking back many people wished they had taken advantage of them. It is such a great way to tailor your experience. Get involved in something you are truly passionate about while surrounded by people from your location of choice! It is also a chance to try something new like playing soccer or dancing salsa.

8. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer.

This is easily the most popular item. Four months, the length of a typical semester, can seem like such a long time to be away from home initially, but think about your last four months. How fast did they go? How much have you changed or learned? In truth, four months is an incredibly short amount of time that will fly. It may take several weeks to feel at home, but after that staying as long as possible usually becomes the number one concern.

 

by ANNIE BIERBOWER 10 March 2014

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Melbourne Exchange Tips

“Book a return flight trip before you leave to the country. You can always change your flight back to the home country at a small fee if needed. It is usually cheaper than booking two one-way trips if you don’t know exactly when you are coming back.” -Junior, Mechanical Engineering

“If you decide to live in the suburbs, make sure to get a concession card for public transport (only available to exchange not international students) — it’ll save half the price. Also, you are able to the change trams, trains, buses for 0 charge within 2 hours of the first time $$ was deducted . Taking the tram in the city is free — if you tap, YOU WILL be charged. Officers do check frequently so make sure you tap when you’re supposed to and always bring your concession card. I heard that Melbourne Central charges you around $9 for the concession card, but if you get it somewhere else they only charge around $3.” -Junior, International Business

“Plan classes well ahead of time, and research the city.” -Sophomore, Business

“I would only recommend people at RMIT to find their own apartment or house like I found most exchange students did (off gumtree site), don’t stay at the RMIT Village.” -Senior, Psychology

“Since Melbourne is known for their coffee and cafes, brunch can range from $14- $20 AUD. Overall, I guess it balances out since you don’t have to pay tips” -Junior, International Business

 

 

RMIT Experience in Melbourne, Australia

Here is a collection of photos and stories of my experience during the Fall semester (yet, Winter/Spring in Australia) at RMIT in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


 

5Part of RMIT’s orientation was an optional third day trip (first 2 days are getting to know the uni and city of Melbourne). That third day we got to go to a petting zoo and feed Koalas, Wallabys, and Kangaroos! Here, my friend Fabian, on the left, and I bought some grass for $2 and fed multiple Roos. We also went further south that night to witness penguins marching to their shelters on land from being in the ocean all day. It’s only 30 or 40 dollars at most, and is a great way to meet more exchange students.


1This is along the Yarra River about an hour outside the city. RMIT offers a bunch of trips throughout the semester and this was one of the first ones. It was a day of river rafting (it was pretty tame) and some rock climbing. Super fun.


 

2Another trip offered was a trip to multiple wineries in the Yarra Valley. A bus was chartered for students (all of which were exchange students), that drove us to each winery where we could taste the local wines. Was only $45, really great fun to see the scenery outside the city. This winery in particular had wild kangaroos running around their vines. Best part was not having to drive after all the wine!


 

7Myself and other exchange student friends going to a free Australian Rules Footy match! Also known as AFL. They had a day for international students to get free tickets, also gave us free cheesy hats. Australia and RMIT takes good care of its international exchange students.


 

3Me paddle boarding in the Whitsundays. An exchange student organized a trip for 40 other exchange students up to Queensland where we stayed at Airlie Beach for a few days and then split into groups and chartered boats to cruise the Whitsundays (a collection of islands where the Great Barrier Reef is). Best trip of my whole life, most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.


4The city of Melbourne as seen from Princes bridge! This is only a 15 minute walk from RMIT since the university is located right in the heart of the city and couldn’t be better situated. There’s endless things to see and do after class.