How to make the most of your semester or internship abroad?

Having new experiences abroad is exciting. Are you looking forward to your semester at another university, your internship, living in a different culture with a different language, and meeting new people? Perfect! Do you feel the anticipation, but have doubts about whether you will get along well? Are you unsure if it will be easy to make new friends? That’ s okay as well.

Of course, preparing for a stay abroad includes practical things like organizing accommodation or administrative matters at the partner university. If you have any questions in this regard, you can contact the International Office. However, this article is more about your own initiative and managing emotions.

When it comes to new experiences, there are aspects that are beneficial to consider. Especially those factors that influence your subjective experience are important. Below you will find food for thought on how to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for your time in a new environment. To be more specific, what I am talking about here is your attitude and your inner mindset.

  1. Be aware of the expectations when you start into this time of the unknown.

Coming fresh to a new place opens the door for new experiences. What is often forgotten in the initial euphoria is the fact that we do not arrive there as blank pages, but already bring with us a wealth of experience and expectations. If we are not aware of them, they often pop up unasked and at the most inappropriate time. That’s why it’s good to reflect on your expectations before you start your journey. Are you optimistic? Are there any concerns or doubts? Do you have the feeling that everything will go smoothly or that it could be difficult?

  1. Clarify your priorities and set intentions.

Everyone has different priorities for the time abroad. Some want to experience and see a lot, some want to collect many credits and quickly advance in their studies. Others want to improve their language skills, meet new people and have fun going out. Maybe you want all of these things and don’t know how to combine them. In order to be content with yourself at the end, it’s helpful to be honest with yourself and to ask yourself: Where are my priorities? When things get too much, you can reflect on this and put your energy into the things that are most important to you.

  1. Pack a box with self-care tools in case there are difficult moments.

Of course, everyone wants to have the best time of their life when traveling abroad. And when that happens, it’s all wonderful. But it can also happen that you encounter emotional lows, get home sick or have difficulties adjusting. For those moments, it’s good to have prepared. If you’re already in a down, it’s harder to get out.

So in a quiet moment when you’re doing well, think about what’s in your self-care kit. What helps you when you’re not doing well? (Feel free to make a list right now). Does a phone call to your best friend help? Is there a feel-good meal that puts you in a state of comfort and relaxation? Have you found a place in your new environment where you can find peace? Does meditation or a walk help you? Knowing what does you good and explicitly writing it down makes it easier for you to remember it in a challenging moment.

By the way, breathing is also a quick way to find your inner balance again. You can learn a few breathing exercises that can do this quickly and effectively in the workshop (see details below).

Attend our workshop!

If you want to expand your self-care toolbox with concrete and body-based exercises, you can do so at the workshop “How to make the most of your time abroad” on December 5! Here are the key facts: