Studying abroad was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You can probably tell from the way I go on and on about it. I’m sure I often come off as bragging but in truth, I just want to share. I know what it felt like to be a foreigner and scared and confused so that’s why I always want to share my experiences with others so that they don’t have to feel so lost.
Yes, studying abroad was awesome. If anyone were to ask me if I wanted to go back to Le Havre I would say yes in a heartbeat. However, not everything is perfect. Here are my list of regrets from studying abroad that I hope will help you get the most out of your experience.
1. Not really practicing the language
I think this was one of my biggest regrets. I had the amazing opportunity of being in France but I often avoided situations where I would have to speak French because I was worried I would embarrass myself. Though I did learn a lot of French and would consider myself near fluent, that was only obtained by listening and so my speaking is still weak. I became aware of this after spending 2 months in China and actually making myself use the language. It was amazing how quickly I picked it up after I started speaking and using it in contextual situations, instead of the simulated classroom conversations. I wish I had known that and not been so self conscious while I was in France because I know my French would be 10 times better if I had.
2. Not building my resume
Sure, the act of studying abroad in and of itself is a great resume builder but it’s becoming more and more common place. To make yourself stand out to future employers you need to do even more. Being in a foreign country is a great chance to add something to your resume that shows that you can take initiative and are comfortable with cultural differences. I, however, did not do this. I went to class, did my readings, and hung out with friends. Looking back now I wish I had joined some clubs or even picked up a job. I had the time but I just didn’t apply myself as much as I could have.
3. Not traveling locally
I studied abroad in Normandy, France. This is one of the most historical regions in the whole country. You’d think I would dedicate some time to seeing all the incredible sites in this area, right? No. I focused so much on trying to see all of Europe that I hardly even explored France. I mean, I was only a couple of hours from the D-day beaches and yet I never visited them. I still regret to this day not appreciating all the cultural heritage of the country is was studying in.