We all know that studying abroad is not always about the studying, but there are still obligations to go to class, complete assignments, and do well on (or just do) exams while abroad. Here are some tips to get through those final exams and essays while enjoying your time abroad:
1. Create a schedule
Once you know when your exams are, make a schedule of the content you need to review before the big day. If you have essays to complete, then set personal deadlines for your research, outlines, and drafts to help you stay on track. If you plan ahead, then you can give yourself room for weekend trips or fun nights with your friends, while still covering all of the necessary material.
2. Study with friends
Whether you’re all taking the same class or not, it’s nice to have a study group so you can compare notes, quiz each other, or hold down the fort at your study spot. Study together in solidarity. It also helps to study with local students who might have tips on acing an exam for a particular subject or professor.
3. Go for a walk
This is always a good idea when working for long periods of time. Walking is not only physically beneficial, giving your body a chance to stretch after sitting for a while, but can also refresh your mind and give you a burst of inspiration. It also gives you a chance to explore your host city – you have limited time there, after all.
4. Reward yourself
Give yourself incentives to study or complete a designated amount of studying by a certain time. I remember pulling an all-nighter with a friend to write our English essays, and we rewarded ourselves with an episode of “Boy Meets World” every few hours. Food rewards would work as well (digestives, anyone?), but just be careful not to get a food coma.
5. Review notes in transport
If you have travel plans, then take your notes with you. You can use those bus or plane rides to get some studying in. Not only are you saving time, but you’ll feel much better about sightseeing if you already got some studying out of the way.
6. Visit your test site in advance
At some universities, exams may not be held in your usual classroom, but in a separate building or even a sports complex (to accommodate a large number of students, or even multiple exams). You may not have been to this building before, so save yourself some stress on test day and check it out beforehand. Also take time to figure out your route (in Bristol, students often took taxis to certain test sites) so you know how much time you’ll need on the day of the exam.
7. Use American spelling
This was something my friends and I joked about doing in England (but I’m pretty sure we all actually did it) – play the pity card. Because the education system and writing style in the UK is quite different from that of the US, we often worried that our essays and test answers wouldn’t “translate” well. Our desperate solution was to make it clear we were visiting students by spelling everything the American way and noting that we were “international” or “study abroad” students in the “year of study” section. I don’t know if it made any difference, but it didn’t seem to do any harm, so why not?
Whether you’re experiencing a whole new education system or are taking classes as an extension of your home university, studying while abroad may fall down on your list of priorities — but with a bit of organization and planning, there’s no reason you can’t do well in your classes abroad (in fact, you might even do better). Good luck!