Enjoying a semester or school year abroad while maintaining a high GPA requires balance and dedication. Whether you’re on exchange for a semester, or doing and entire degree abroad, a new country can be exciting and thoroughly distracting from your course work. So how does one enjoy the all the sights and nightlife of a new country while keeping their grades up?
A successful international student will have to overcome procrastination and become a master of time management. But it’s not as scary as it sounds! As a former International student, I’ve put together this little guide for keeping your grades up while enjoying everything your new country has to offer.
You’ll want to start off by outlining your intended GPA outcome.
- If you’re truly an international student, then you’ll (probably) want to maintain high marks. The bonus of a longer time spent abroad is having more time to take in all the sights – and more time to study!
- If you’re spending a semester abroad, then your home institution will often accept your credits as pass or failed classes. Determine what grade point will be considered a pass by your home institution and make it your goal to keep your marks at least that high.
Now that you have a grade point goal, you’ll want to take a good look at the semester(s) to come.
- Determine the duration of holidays, long weekends, and examination periods. Winter and Easter Holidays provide the perfect time to schedule longer getaways, while long weekends also permit you to break away for a little mid-semester adventuring.
- Keep in mind that you’ll still have midterms to study for, term papers to write, and presentations to give. I recommend waiting until you’ve got all these dates before planning any weekend getaways – schedule appropriate amounts of extra time to keep up with your course work.
- If you’re completing a work-intensive program of study, you may want to opt to take one or two days off each week that you can devote to exploring your host city. You might not have time to devote to constant traveling but at least you can enjoy the culture and heritage of the city you chose to study in.
Decide early on what your travel goals are: do you want to sightsee around your home city? Would you like to visit other cities or countries? How many places will you be able to see? What are your travel options? Etc.
Also, consider you financial situation early on: would you be happy blowing your savings on one great trip, or enjoying many smaller weekend getaways? Make sure you’re able to stretch your budget to accommodate your traveling goals.
Another important step for travel abroad will be meeting friends.
- Do you have friends studying or living abroad who you would like to visit? These are good starting points for adventure!
- If you’re traveling alone, it’s not the end of the world – check to see whether your school has a traveling club that you can join, or start planning a solo adventure.
My final piece of advice has to do with scheduling deadlines. Before you depart for a weekend trip, ensure that you have completed all of your assignments. I know this doesn’t sound like fun, but sticking to deadlines will keep your grades up and allow you to fully enjoy your adventures without the feeling of dread.
So to all those traveling scholars heading off to far away places - I wish you all the best of luck with your studies and travels!