Studying Abroad this Fall? You Need These Tips in Your Life

by Megan Lee

Seeing the beautiful change of colors in the tree-laden streets of Paris? Eating seasonal breads in Germany? Celebrating Day of the Dead with REAL Mexicans in REAL Mexico?! Or, for those lucky enough heading south of the equator, a second SUMMER (because let’s face it, one just won’t suffice anymore). Studying abroad during the fall semester is a popular choice, and it doesn’t take a Sheldon to figure out why.

Fallen leaves on the ground in a park
Studying abroad in the fall semester is more than just changing leaves. 

There are a number of unique considerations fall study abroad students should address before, during, and after their semester abroad. Read on for a short list from your friends at GoAbroad:

1. Keep an eye out for spring registration.

You might be having a blast exploring and adventuring around the world, but don’t miss those deadlines to sign up for spring semester courses in the midst of all your fun. Stay on track for graduating and don’t wind up with all 8 a.m.’s by being cognizant of your scholastic expectations back home.

2. Pack a winter coat!

Stuff your warm jacket in the bottom of your pack until you fly home, otherwise you’ll repeat my mistake: running around the snowy JFK airport in early December wearing nothing but a long sleeved shirt (d’oh!). Never mind that it might take up valuable real estate in your luggage. It will still prove its worth come that return flight.

Woman typing on a laptop
Remember to email your advisor and register for spring classes!

3. Buy your holiday gifts abroad.

Our super budget-savvy friends may choose to double dip the gifts bought for their family abroad as holiday presents. Another option would be to buy two sets of presents for your family members. It’ll be the most interesting and ethnic holiday morning yet!

Bonus tip for those who celebrate Christmas: Moms love ornaments, and it’ll be a fun one to hang up in the years to come.

4. Get your housing in order.

What a bummer it would be to miss out on living with your friends in that highly-sought after dormitory on campus, or be forced to live in a stinky apartment with a bunch of strangers simply because of your oversight. Stay on top of your campus housing situation. If you are opting to live off of campus for the year, be sure to communicate frequently with your current roommates and your sublet tenant.

Don’t let your accommodations get you down, but don’t let them go forgotten either.

Person wearing orange parka looking at snowy mountains
Don’t forget your winter coat! 

5. Avoid going back to campus during finals week.

It can be tempting to race back to school before all of your friends head home for winter break. Truth be told, this isn’t a great week to reunite with them. It can be hard enough to get back into the swing of things with your family, and stacking your friendship dynamics on top can impede your post-study-abroad progress.

Your friends will be focusing on their school work anyway, and waiting a few more weeks for those hugs won’t be the end of the world.

6. Mourn the loss of the #PSL in your life. Or the #NFL.

Don’t worry - it’ll be back next year, and it’ll taste even better.

Bonus tip: See this less as a loss and more as a gain. Being able to witness fads coming and going back home can help you realize the silly time, effort, and energy we invest in trivial, transient things.

Christmas presents under a tree
Take advantage of holiday markets and buy your gifts while abroad!

7. Express interest in your clubs.

If you have been an active member of a campus organization, be sure to let them know you’ll be returning in full force come spring semester. If you’ve been working hard to qualify for a leadership position, do not be shy about expressing your interest in it. Stay in the loop about the club happenins’ while you are away if you can. This will help make your transition mid-year a much smoother one.

8. Anticipate being overwhelmed when you come home.

Leaving your new home. Coming back to your old home. Intense holiday season. Dad has a new haircut. Kelly has a new boyfriend. Your kitty prefers your brother’s lap now. Getting prepped for spring semester.

The times, they’ll be a changin’. To put it nicely: returning home is no picnic. Prepare in advance for the hectic first weeks by making time, while abroad, to reflect on your semester. In this way, you’ll have a clearer mind and handle on your pending responsibilities.

Boy walking on a college campus
Avoid campus if you’re home before finals week.

Bonus tip: Make time to see everyone, but don’t feel pressured to see everyone within your first week home; it’s unrealistic and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Schedule in some low-key days for jetlag, lounging, or just general “me” time!

With these tips in mind, students will be prepped and ready to not only spend their fall semester abroad, but to spend their semester falling in love with life abroad. SEE WHAT I DID THERE?