If you read my last post, you know that my time is running out. I have just under 2 weeks left, and I might be jumping the gun on this post, but here are my recommendations for studying abroad.
For my semester I chose an affiliate program which means that a 3rd party manages me, not my university. I believed an affiliate program was my best fit because it had a little bit more hand-holding than exchange. However, it was also the only program that worked for me, but that’s another conversation.
I have thoroughly enjoyed having an affiliate. We have a plethora of excursions that are included, the home-stay gives me freedom from daily chores, and having a built in group of friends makes everything easier. However, I have had trouble with expecting more from my affiliate than they provide. I payed a premium for the service, so I expected that they would be more inclusive. On excursions, most meals, bus rides, and activities are not included. You still have to pay to play even though trips are included in the program cost.
Aside from logistics, my other recommendations are more interpersonal. My first point being indecision. Indecision will kill your trip, and the larger your group is, the more difficult it will be to overcome this obstacle. In the beginning everyone will be moving a million miles an hour wanting to anything and everything. This includes free weekends, nights out, and even choosing a place to eat. Everyone wants to find the perfect place, but you’ll find yourself spending more time looking than doing. Some people on my trip have missed out on entire experiences trying to choose something rather than acting on whats available. Not everything is going to be perfect, and everything tends to work out no matter what you choose.
My next point is for people who choose home-stays as their semester long accommodations. I had trouble deciding on my lodging, but I settled on a home-stay for the experience. I was completely terrified since I was/am not very good at Spanish, and all host families don’t know English. However, I would recommend this to anyone studying abroad. For everyone in my group, they have been extremely accommodating and literally take care of everything; cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. Other people who chose a residence or an apartment find themselves wishing they had home-stays. Furthermore, I do wish I had a roommate, so if that is an option, jump on it.
Everyone in my group, and that I have met, has had an incredible experience, so don’t let my post scare you. These are just some things that may make it better.