Cultural Experience | South Dakota

The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying Abroad.

Be practical, do some research, keep a journal and live like a local.


It’s that time of year when many of you are filling out applications and rushing around campus getting signatures for your summer trip or Fall semester abroad in Europe, South America, Australia, or wherever your destination may be. Finally when it feels like you are all prepared, someone calls asking for more money, more paper work, and that signature you happened to overlook. Don’t give up hope! Studying abroad is worth all the tedious tasks, because you are about to embark on the most thrilling journey of your life. Here are some do’s and don’ts for your trip abroad…

Don’t wear anything Nike or too athletically trendy. You’ll stand out like a tourist – it screams, “I’m a tourist!” The only day I wore Nike shorts in Prague, I was stared at the entire day. That was the first and last day I wore athletic attire outside of my apartment. Your favorite football team’s hooded sweatshirt should be left at home and so should your Greek letters.

Do think practical when packing. Black is functional and basic, and a must. Also, remember to check what the weather is supposed to be like during your time abroad. Pack the right kind of coat. That red trendy raincoat may look great and result in tons of compliments, but it’s not going to suffice for cold temps, snow and sleet. Stick to packing the essentials. Shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. can all be purchased abroad.

Do be prepared to live on noodles and cheap meals. It’s a small sacrifice for being able to travel and do more on a budget. Make sure to try to the street food!

Don’t bring irons, steamers, curling irons, flat irons or any other (un)necessities that plug in. It will blow up, guaranteed. You’ll be considered one of the lucky ones if you have a flat iron that survives. Your natural god given frizzy hair is part of the study abroad experience.

Do keep a journal or blog. It may sound lame, but it’s worth it. Make time for it and do it. This is a MUST. Read it a few months later and you’ll feel the nostalgia rushing back to you when you read about all the little things like your inside jokes, eight hour train rides, and everything in between.

Don’t do everything as group. Take time to explore the city by yourself, and you will discover a lot about yourself and the city. You will not feel obligated to satisfy every person’s wants and needs. Take a solo day trip somewhere; your confidence levels will soar after you realize you can and did travel world by yourself. I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.  ~James Baldwin

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Do research the proper nightlife attire.  If it’s culturally the norm to get really dressed up to go out, you’re going to want to have the right clothes. Don’t bring your closet of high heels. Your new heels won’t stand a chance against the old cobblestone streets.

Do meet locals. They provide insight into the culture, social life, and politics. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to hang out with locals from another country because you will have the chance to see the city in a new undiscovered light.


 Don’t try to stay updated 24/7 with what’s going on at home through social media. It will result in homesickness, and that time could be much better spent at a dive bar with your new local friends. Trust me, no one back home is doing anything better than what you are. You’ll have plenty of time to update your mom and boyfriend on your experience abroad when you get back home.

Do have the time of your life and step out of your comfort zone.Channel your inner Anthony Bourdain. Stay curious, wherever your adventures may take you. Studying abroad will open your eyes to a whole new world of culture and traditions. It will be filled with unforgettable memories and you’ll discover a whole new side of yourself.


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 Do's and Dont's of StudyAbroad

Kaitlin Christenson

U of South Dakota | 3 stories

My name is Kaitlin Christenson, and I am a public relations major at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD. As a 22-year-old, my life is full of adventure. I love traveling, cooking, good books, and taking on new challenges.

5 responses to “The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying Abroad.”

  1. […] The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying Abroad. […]

  2. […] The Do’s and Don’ts of Studying Abroad. […]

  3. Breanna Young says:

    Thank you Kaitlin for sharing your tips and experience! My decision about studying abroad next year is looking more and more positive after reading articles like yours! 🙂

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