1.Knows Nothing About the Host Country
“The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.” – Britney Spears
For goodness sake, if you are committed to studying abroad, study before you come abroad. Americans have a reputation for being ignorant of the world. Break that stereotype early by learning about where you will be living, the geography, and the people. Know the surrounding countries, know their ways of life, and know what language they speak.
2. Uses Only English
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – Kames Michener
If you do not think you can appreciate different language or culture, you are not learning. You don’t have to be perfectly fluent, but try to say hello in their language and listen to those that have different beliefs. Practice every chance you get – even if they speak back to you in English. Language ties people together. Learn as many as you can.
3. Hangs in their Comfort Zone
10 Common Mistakes Made While Studying Abroad: Comfort Zone
Photo by Tiffany, The Education Abroad Network Alum
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable…but to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman
Along the lines of understanding, also try to be a chameleon. At least taste the food (yes even brains!), buy funny looking shoes, see how it feels. No, it may not be “right” for you, but it will bring you farther out of your comfort zone and farther into theirs, and ultimately make your understanding of your host culture more robust.
4. Monica Gellar’s Their Travels
“A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it.” – John Steinbeck
No matter how many times you go over that impeccable timetable or made sure you set your alarm on AM not PM, your travel plans will go wrong. Accepting it is the first step. Bouncing back is the next. If you miss your flight, book another one and talk to someone next to you, the memory stuck in the airport may be more influential than the trip itself.
5. Carries Old Baggage
“When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Moon
Whether it is in a hostel, with your new study abroad crew, on a Bus2alps trip you signed up for solo, etc, going abroad is the chance to be who you truly are. They do not know your past or your dreams. They only know what you give them. Don’t fake it. This is possibly the only time in your life where you can be you.
6. Overdoses on Technology
“In total, users check their smart phones an average of 150 times during a waking day of 16 hours, the research found.” – IBNLive
Disconnect. Do not get that overseas plan. Don’t rush out to find WiFi. Documenting these experiences to share is wonderful, but there is a time and place. See the world through your eyes, not a screen. Try to go eat something wonderful, do something amazing, or see something incredibly beautiful and just appreciate it without posting it.