Whether you have already applied to go abroad this summer or are still thinking about how to make it happen, we asked some former participants to share their best tips and advice on how to make the most of your summer abroad experience!
I would advise getting to know the country where you are traveling. This helped me with the culture shock. Second, I would suggest trying some authentic food that is prepared in the foreign country. I found a little restaurant in Portland that served Costa Rican food, and I asked the cook about food served regularly in Costa Rica, and he happily gave me lots of information.
I suggest hosting a student before you go. We had a Spanish student in June and it really gave me an idea of what to expect when I went to Spain in July. Not only did it help to see that despite being homesick at first, our student totally became part of our family by the end of the month, but it also really helped me become aware of little cultural details that I never would have known about from just studying Spanish in school.
--Kevin, Immersion in Spain
This student packed a month's worth of belongings into this small duffel bag for her trip to Nicaragua. We were impressed!
"Bring some gifts from home to your host family. Bring something that reflects your home state or region, or some kind of gift that reflects you and your family. I’m from Oregon, so I went to the “Made in Oregon” store and found some great gifts to bring to my host family! They will appreciate the gifts, and they will also spark some great conversations."
Don’t over-pack! I definitely overestimated the amount of clothes and toiletries I would need to bring and ended up with a huge and heavy suitcase! You don’t need as much as you think, remember, your host family will most likely have a washer and dryer or some way of doing laundry, so don’t worry!
--Shelby, Immersion in France
You will probably feel a little homesick when you first arrive, especially if you haven't really been away from home before. But just remember this may be a once in a life time experience so don't let being a little home sick ruin your time abroad. You may never get to study abroad again but you will be back home with your friends and family before you know it. Make friends, study the culture, and explore the city you're in. It will help you feel more at home, and you will definitely enjoy yourself more. Your time abroad will go by faster than you know.
--Carolyn, Immersion in Spain
Make use of your time wisely. Take advantage of every moment, because it will be more worthwhile. Try to talk to your host family as much as possible, and try to not
be alone when you can. This is especially helpful if you are learning a foreign language. This will also help build a relationship with your family that will last for must longer and will make for better memories.
--Lauren, Immersion in France