I’ve spent this past semester studying abroad in Scotland. It has been a truly incredible experience and one that I want everyone to be able to enjoy.
However I have to say, there are a lot of things about studying abroad that are usually left out of the cool stories about travelling to foreign countries, visiting exciting cities, and meeting people from around the world. Study abroad has its ups and downs. There still is schoolwork to be done, classes to go to, there are missed flights and expensive cab rides, places that you wanted to go but couldn’t fit in, and a lot of other things that aren’t fun or don’t go as planned. But even after all the ups and downs that are part of the seemingly hectic life of a student abroad, there are the moments where you simply have nothing to do. These moments are plentiful.
Studying abroad means that you will be far away from the normal responsibilities and obligations that come with the ordinary college experience. When you leave for another country, you leave your clubs behind, your job behind, any sports you might regularly play behind, and, unless you find something to take up the time that you normally spend doing those things, you are going to have a lot of time on your hands. For some people, this is a great thing. I know others who loved this about study abroad because it gave them time to relax and de-stress like they never had back at their home college. Others, however, get very antsy. If you are one of those people, I would strongly recommend picking up a hobby while you’re abroad. Whether it be joining a club or a sports team at your new university, or something that you as an individual want to try out, finding something to take up time during the day is essential. It can also be a great opportunity to experience the culture of wherever you are studying.
I picked up two hobbies that have really helped me pass the time when there was really nothing else for me to be doing. One of these things was spending more time learning how to cook for myself. I had hours in the evening where I had very little to do, so I decided to spend that time making myself food that was a bit better for me than Kraft Mac and Cheese. Not only did I find this fun, but it has made me eat healthier and more excited for making dinner. The other hobby I picked up has become one of my favorite things to do in my free time: play the bagpipes. It sounds pretty crazy, and if you told me a few months ago that this is what I would be doing, I would’ve thought you were crazy. I am by no stretch of the imagination a musically inclined person, but I decided that it would be a great way to learn about Scottish culture while also learning a pretty cool skill. I could not be happier that I did this. It has been so much fun, very educational, and extremely useful whenever I need to bother my flat-mates.
If you study abroad, believe me, you will have loads of free time. That provides a perfect opportunity to try something out that you’ve never been able to focus on before, and, if you’re daring enough, try something out of your comfort zone that will help you further immerse yourself in another culture.