As I mentioned in my last post, I already started working on my New Year’s Resolutions. Trying to make my head around what I want to accomplish in 2017 made me realise that there are some general points that all international students could probably work on. So if you are still struggling with your New Year’s Resolutions maybe you will like some of those propositions for making your next semester abroad a little bit cooler.
TRAVEL AROUND AND GO LOCAL
Studying abroad could be called a wasted time for me, if you don’t take time to explore your surroundings. You don’t have to go far, your region for sure has a lot to offer. Anyway, it is not about WHERE but HOW. Find your own way to go local. Wander around with some unfamiliar national music in your earphones. Make a tour of those small nameless places serving great local food until you have to let one of your buttons loose. I choose to sit on the kerb of the street every once in a while, observe the life going on around me and sketch in attempt of catching the fleeting atmosphere, the genius loci of the place. However, I still haven’t had a chance to explore a lot of Sweden except of few cities. So I can let you in on the secret that one of my personal resolutions for 2017 involves me, trekking and Swedish wildlife.
LEARN NATIONAL LANGUAGE
I came to Sweden with a firm belief that I don’t need Swedish because I already know a bit of Danish. They are so similar I was afraid of getting it all confused. Besides, everyone here speaks English anyways. I was right. I don’t need Swedish. But I want Swedish! There is never going to be a better opportunity for learning a new foreign language than when you are actually living abroad. You get a chance for practice at every step. So all the international students out there: stop being lazy and start learning the language of the country you live in. New language is a whole new reality to explore. So in 2017 I’m diving into world of experiences described in Swedish, hope to see you there!
DIG INTO THE HISTORY
Sometimes the key to understanding someone is learning about their past. And culture clashes are a prominent part of everyday life of an international student. So maybe in 2017 you should expand your knowledge of the country you live in? Whether it means taking a Coursera MOOC or enjoying a good historical book – it is up to you.
MAKE PLACE IN YOUR LIFE FOR NEW PEOPLE
I see it so often– international students sticking with the one person from their country that they came with (or met just after coming). Or when you are excited that you managed to form this awesome pack of friends and you do everything together. That can be a lot of fun, sure. But sometimes it means not letting new people into your life. When I found out that I am not going to live with my best friends here for the next semester I was a little bit bummed. Boo hoo, we already planned morning pyjama dances, cooking together and weekly Saturday’s karaoke. But then I realised that living in the dorms will actually lead to meeting a lot of new people. And I want to keep meeting people and keep letting them into my life, so bring it on 2017!
TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES
This one goes doesn’t really need explanation, does it? Life goes fast and life studying abroad seems to be going even faster. My first semester is gone in a blink of an eye. And if I have one regret concerning those first 4 months it is not taking enough photos. They are great not only as a reminder of those awesome stories, adventures and new friendships, but also can help you connect with your old friends back home you can share them with. Isn’t the story about your trip to Lapland just hundred times better with the video of you dogs sledding?
GET INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY
Student organisations, volunteering, sport clubs, creative community meetings… there is so many ways to get involved! Studying abroad goes by the same rules as everything else in life: the more you give the more you get. Giving a little bit more from yourself in 2017 can result in new hobbies, new friends and unforgettable experiences.
LET GO OF YOUR HOME
Last but not least, a challenge for all students studying abroad: let go of your home. I am not suggesting you shouldn’t keep in touch with your friends and family. By all means you should! But sometimes it may be hard to accept that time goes by in your hometown without you. Your friends are going to make new friends, accomplish things without you, places are going to change. Let that happen. Don’t hold on too much to the past, accept that you can’t always be there and celebrate changes with your loved ones when you visit.