Katerina Russo is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2016, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A communications and political science major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.
In this week's post, Katerina writes about the importance of balance in study abroad when you have academics, an internship, the opportunity to travel and your whole host city and country at your fingertips to explore.
Living abroad can be a very exciting time. There's so many new things to try and places to go and things to see. However, it is necessary to keep in mind the reason why you're actually abroad in the first place, which is to study. In the case where you may be interning as well as taking classes, there may be an even more pressing need to keep up with responsibilities in order to maintain good relations with the people your colleagues, as well the with the professors of your classes.
While of course you're going to want to make the most of your time abroad by traveling and experiencing as much as you possibly can, it's important to keep things in perspective and remember that school and life back home still goes on after the semester here ends.
On the other hand, you also don't want to remain so focused on school and interning that you miss out on what's happening in the city around you or the opportunities you may have to travel abroad. I've found that it really helps a lot to stick to planning travel on the weekends and to try your best to avoid booking flights that interfere with class times. It'll be worth the few extra dollars you'll save from booking the earlier flight. And remember to account for the hours of extra time it may take to get to the airport and go through security when making these kinds of plans. Throughout the course of the semester, there are plenty of long weekends and even one entire week long break to schedule traveling as well.
While enormously rewarding, traveling can also come to be pretty exhausting at times so be sure to spread out the weekends you want to plan trips on. Getting out and exploring your host city is another important, yet surprisingly a bit difficult kind of task. While commuting back and forth from my internship and attending classes during the week, I pass by so many cute little shops and cafes and restaurants that I would love to try, but have difficulty finding the time to actually get there.
This same kind of idea goes for the rest of the host country as well; I had been to two different countries before I had the chance to venture very far outside of the city of Dublin. This is a great opportunity to ask the advice of local people which places are their favorite and which places they think would be most exciting to visit. You will want to see as much as you can and get the greatest feel for the country you are inhabiting and the kind of people who live there, so don't be afraid to try new things and immerse yourself in the culture of whichever country you have decided to live in. This is the best way to truly experience it.
Katerina's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.