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Your Time Abroad

You're On Your Way

Bon voyage! While you're abroad, plan to be intentional about making the most of your international experience. You'll learn and grow more if you immerse yourself in the local culture and reflect on what you are learning.

Ecuador LACS interns working with Mama Ines

Make Your Time Count

Cultivate these attitudes! They'll help you make the most of your time abroad:

  • Learn about and understand cultural norms, values, and conflicts.
  • Keep an open mind. Be flexible and willing to try out new activities and situations.
  • Be resourceful. Practice culturally appropriate problem-solving and social skills.
  • Take time each day or week to reflect on your experiences.

Here are some more tips from study abroad alumni and our advising staff.

Don't neglect your academics!

Your learning happens everywhere while you're abroad—but don't forget to go to class! Different classroom practices and teaching styles are an important part of the university culture in your host location that will shape your international learning.

Skipping class or falling behind are common mistakes for students abroad. You definitely don't want your time abroad to put you behind on your degree requirements.

Can I change my classes from what I put on my course plan months ago?

You may experience a scheduling conflict or simply want to take a different class once you arrive at your program. Email your academic or college advisor for approval before making a change. Checking with your advisor is vital if the change affects your major or distributional credits. If you fail to notify your advisor of changes, your credits may not transfer back to Cornell as planned.

Hui at Sydney aquarium

The more you know, the more you see.

Your study abroad experience will be richer if you take the time to learn about the culture before arriving. There are cultural markers hidden to tourists that shine through when you begin to learn about a culture’s past, present, and future. You’ll be amazed at how much more clearly you can see a place and its people.

Engage with locals. Find a friend or mentor.

Some of the richest and most meaningful lessons you'll learn abroad will be through interactions with locals and with other international visitors. But first you need to give yourself the chance to meet people!

I've only been here a few days, and I'm already lonely. How do I meet people?

It can be hard to meet people when you are in a new and strange environment. Our best advice is to challenge yourself to try something new every day and participate in local events and activities. If your program offers to match you with a conversation partner, give it a try. Join a student organization. Volunteer at a local community center or event. Find a group that shares your passions and interests.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Connecting and interacting with locals—especially a new friend who knows the culture well—will help you through challenging moments and make your international experience much more memorable and fun.

Some parting words of advice:

  • Prepare with a basic understanding of your country’s language.
  • Live in your local time zone.
  • Get to know your host city by exploring. Walk and use public transportation.
  • Travel within your host country and region—but not every weekend!

Regional Travel Resources