by Jon Sender | Back to Guide
The best way to make the most of study abroad is to have an idea of your goals before you even get far into the process. You have plenty of time to think about them, but the point is to start now because knowing what you want will lead you to the right people to talk to. Perhaps you might want an immersive language experience, or maybe the opportunity to visit as many countries as you can, or even something in between. You might be looking to volunteer, find an internship, discover if living in that country is right for you, broaden your worldview, or whatever.
Once you have something in mind, find someone who’s done that before and talk to them about it. For example, I knew I wanted an immersive experience in Hebrew, so I talked to high school friends who did similar things with Chinese, French, and Spanish. One of them told me I absolutely needed to ensure the university placed me in an apartment with natives, so I knew to email ahead and take care of that.
Before leaving for Israel, I figured out that my top three goals were: attaining fluency in Hebrew (because I was already close), gaining exposure to Israeli entrepreneurship, and understanding Israeli culture. Again, you don’t need to know yours now, but this is a good time to start thinking. And if in the end you don’t come up with anything concrete, that’s okay, too. It will just mean your trip is about letting the world take you where it takes you.
Before the end of the semester prior to leaving, my university gathered all study abroad students for a workshop and had us fill out this goal sheet. Save it and fill it out as you think of things. For a sample, here’s how I filled out mine.