Why You Should Get Involved While Studying Abroad
Study Abroad is all about expanding your horizons.
Between packing and booking plane tickets, it’s easy to forget that study abroad means you actually have to go to your classes. Being in a new country is one thing, but you’re also going to be at a new school and in a new community. This is something you should take advantage of by getting involved.
It’s a great way to get to know the locals and immerse yourself into their culture. And of course, it’s a great way to make friends. I owe a lot of my best memories to the club I joined while studying in New Zealand and I couldn’t imagine my study abroad experience without it.
During the first week of class, my new university held a club fair, which is where I found the tramping club. Tramping–the New Zealand term for hiking– was something I had very little experience in and when I showed up to the first meeting, I felt both nervous and excited. Thankfully, everyone was in the club was extremely welcoming and it turned out to be the best thing I could have done.
The club planned hiking trips almost every weekend and sometimes organized volunteer events, such as planting vegetation for penguin habitats. We’d meet on campus, carpool to the mountains, hike up to a cabin in the forest, and hang out around the campfire. I was able to talk with and make friends with the people who were going to the same school and learn about their lives and their ambitions, discussing cultural differences and similarities while looking up at the stars. It’s something I would have never done if I hadn’t gotten outside of my comfort zone and joined the club. It was also a good way to see the great sights of New Zealand that were not advertised in any of my travel guides. I got to go where the locals went and the best part was most definitely the amazing people that I met.
Now of course, unless you’re also going to Victoria University of Wellington, your new school probably isn’t going to have a tramping club. (Though if you are going to VUW then you should obviously join!) However, there are still so many ways to get involved wherever you are and I’ve got some tips on the best way to do it!
Go to the club fair
You’ll never know what your school will have to offer if you don’t do some research. The club fair is a great place to get answers to any questions you might have. You might just find something you never even thought of before. VUW also had a Brewery Club where members got together and brewed their own beers.
Try to find something that will help you better experience where you are
The amount of hiking I did was a central part of my New Zealand experience and the means of my appreciation for the country’s pure natural landscapes. For example, if you want to see museums find the art history club or if you want to eat more of your country’s food, find out if there’s a culinary club. If there’s a club or organization out there that means you doing more of what you’re going to your country to do, then you cannot let it pass you by.
If you don’t have any luck finding anything you like at your new school, don’t be afraid to look outside. Volunteering is a great way to get together and bond with new people. It all depends on whatever you enjoy doing most.
Study abroad is all about expanding your horizons. You don’t only want to observe the new culture you’re being thrown into, but you also want to engage with it. You might find you’ll learn so much more than you ever expected.