Study Abroad: Not an Extended Vacation

Rachel Chea

More stories from Rachel Chea

This may seem obvious to most but believe it or not, sometimes it needs to be said as a reminder: studying abroad is not an extended vacation. Sure, when I got here about three months ago (and the first couple weeks afterward) it felt like one. You’re in a completely different country that most people dream of visiting, you’re surrounded by new people and a different language, you’re trying to see as much of the new place as you can and you’re trying to familiarize yourself with the daily life. However, after months of the same routine during the week, that feeling slowly fades.

Over the first couple months you think you have life abroad figured out, between balancing school, exploring your new home, this new country, and taking a few trips here and there. Unfortunately, it has now reached that moment in the semester, after you have exhausted all of the school-sanctioned breaks, with only a little over a month left, where reality is starting to catch up with you.

Every major assignment that your professors have been talking about are all coming at once. Final projects need to start being planned, final research papers need to start being written and final presentations need to start being prepared. An added bonus in my case is that a lot of these things are due in the middle of this month, before the final week even arrives. Needless to say, I’m starting to freak out a little.

Before now, I had little moments when balancing being abroad and also going to school would pose a bit of a challenge, but I dealt with it and got back to living life. Now it’s starting to get a bit harder. All this time I thought I had left to write, plan, and prepare is suddenly morphing into just two weeks. And the one or two trips I had envisioned going on when it got warmer, before finals week, are slowly moving out of my reach.

So I guess you could say that I got this friendly reminder once again after coming back from our week of spring break (which was Easter Break for the rest of you). Don’t get me wrong, sometimes reminders are good, and sometimes they make you feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off. I’m sure you can guess which side of the spectrum I’m on…

I’m sure those who have studied abroad previously can relate, and if not, you obviously didn’t go to a real school. For those thinking of studying abroad, just know it’s a great experience and you should definitely do it, but remember: it is not an extended vacation; you’re still in college.