The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Abroad: A Learning Curve

UMass students in Barcelona

Abroad... it is truly as amazing an experience as everyone says. It's crazy to think that you just get to get up, leave, and live in a new city for four months. However, much like anything new, being abroad presents a huge learning curve. It's all a part of the experience. Here are some tips for future abroad students from someone who is currently abroad and has lived/is still living through the learning curve:

When to Start Planning for Study Abroad

Glen Coe, Scotland

I knew long before I came to college that I wanted to study abroad. It started way back when my older sister, now long graduated (from UMass as well), was going on college visits during her last few years in high school. I tagged along on a lot of these visits and was always blown away by the stories people told about their study abroad experiences. That, coupled with my love of travel, meant that I had made up my mind long before I even had to think about college: I was going to study abroad. So when the time came, and I was finally going off to college, that was something always in the back of my mind.

Keeping the Door Open

Hanging in the Quad with Friends at the University of Massachusetts

As a freshman, you will repeatedly hear people telling you to keep your dorm room door open to make friends. Of course, as a young and totally cool college student you may be tempted to ignore this advice. However, I swear it is not just some tall tale they tell freshmen to convince them that making friends is easy. I have personally found that keeping the door open, both literally and conceptually, has helped me make friends in college.

How to Beat Homesickness at UMass

UMass students and a snowman

My first semester of college was rough, I can't lie. While I made great friends and took intresting classes, I couldn’t shake the constant feeling of loneliness and homesickness. For me, the feeling of homesickness was like having a constant knot in my stomach and feeling perpetually stressed out. I missed the way things were in high school; I missed my close friends, the team pasta parties, the monotonous class schedule, and the comfortable feeling of knowing exactly what to expect. 

 

Science Can be Fun??

Ever since high school I knew that a career in science was for me. As much as I loved every second of learning about chromosomes, organelles and the endosymbiotic theory....there are definitely times when I wished that I had picked a different field of study. These moments may include when you have to go into lab at 10:30 p.m. on a Friday night to check your bacterial plates, or when you spend hours on end working on an experiment just to get a small percent yield and want to cry on the spot. Yes, science has its hardships and its pitfalls, but there is truly nothing better than when you grasp a complex concept or complete an experiment correctly.

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