Davis Capes, a sophomore at Elon University, has some great advice on how to make the most of your study abroad location!
1. Talk to the locals
This is the best way to get the inside scoop on wherever you’re traveling. Talking to the locals can get you information on some of the best restaurants, attractions, and events. It also gives you more of a feeling of home while abroad. It makes you feel connected to your city when you feel a connection to the people.
This may be hard for some who love to stick to the schedule and have a plan every day of the trip. Some of my best experiences while abroad have come from taking time out of the day to be time that I just explore the city I am in (with no desired start or end to my destination) or go somewhere on a whim without research or worries. Going to places off the beaten path on a whim can really make you feel one with the city.
3. Try something you would never do at home
While I’m abroad in Cape Town this summer, I will be skydiving at some point. This is something that at home I would always say I wanted to do but would always put off planning. If you plan something like this while abroad, you knock off something on your bucket list and experience it in a brand new place all at the same time. Just think you’ll be able to say “I went skydiving in South Africa/(insert your destination here).” Its like doing something scary with a friend: you’ll always remember them by that experience.
4. Give back to the community
Since I’ve been in Cape Town I have already had the opportunity to visit a school in the suburbs of the city that takes in a select group of kids and gives them a better education along with after school care. The concept of giving back to the community may seem more like manual labor than fun but it has actually been the most pleasant and rewarding part of my time abroad so far. Seeing what the less fortunate community is really like instead of just making all your rounds at the tourist stops makes you feel like you have really gotten to know and understand the people and culture you are visiting.