Expectations for Study Abroad

BY CAITLIN BLANCHETTE, LAW ’20, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

When I first realized I wanted to study abroad, my mind was racing with all of the possibilities. I started researching where I wanted to go and what programs offered applicable courses for my major. I turned to the Study Abroad office in the Office of International Education for direction. Through their guidance, and with help from my academic counselor, we narrowed down the programs that I was interested in.

Caitlin Blanchette in Amsterdam

This fall I have been studying Law and Criminology at the Vrije University in Amsterdam, through the Institute for the International Education of Students. This third-party program allows for students to immerse themselves in the local culture. I knew this was the best option for me because they offered courses within my major, in a country I was excited to go to.

While every study abroad experience will be different, I think there is a common thread of expectations. It is natural to wonder what it might be like, but it is nearly impossible to know until you get there. By going with a third party to study abroad I was immersing myself in a foreign place. I really did not know what to expect studying abroad to be like.  I could imagine scenarios and wonder what might happen, but I knew it would be completely different from what I expected. Keeping your expectations in check is important in being able to be flexible and adapt to the differences you will face abroad. There are two major aspects that helped me while studying abroad.

  1. Keep an Open Mind
    Remaining flexible and going with the flow can help you to have a better experience. By trying not to have a rigid idea of what you will experience, you open yourself up to the unknown. Going in with an open mind allows you to experience something without the let downs of expectations. Embracing the unknown can be intimidating, but some of your best study abroad experiences will happen by keeping an open mind.
  2. Expect the Unexpected
    Being prepared is a vital part of being able to adapt to your situation abroad. Look up the weather so you know if you will need your umbrella. Check the directions to make sure you are going the right way on the metro. Remember to stay hydrated. And always carry a portable charger, you never know how essential Google Translate is until you cannot use it.

Caitlin and new friends on the Euromast.

Studying abroad is a gigantic step in any college student’s life. You are putting yourself out there in a completely new space while representing your home-school. Being flexible and able to adapt has helped me in adjusting to my life abroad. You really never know what’s gonna happen – like meeting lifelong friends or going up over 600 feet on the Euromast!