You have made it across the country and you’re ready for nonstop site visits, excursions, exquisite cuisine, and photo ops, right? Almost. While you will certainly get to experience all of the wonderful things above, remember that you will still have coursework and studying to do! Depending on the length of your program, it is easy to let your readings and assignments pile up until it’s too late. Here are some tips I used to stay on top of my coursework for the two weeks I was abroad with SPEA in Israel:
- Keep that syllabus handy. Take photos or screenshot your course syllabus. You may not always have access to WiFi or a paper copy of the syllabus. Having this information on hand at all times allows you to begin balancing fun with your equally important academic responsibilities.
- Set deadline reminders. You may think you’ll remember that an assignment is due, but often times you are having so much fun abroad that you lose track of time. Before you know it, your paper or discussion post was due hours ago. Setting reminders on your phone can seriously save your grade!
- Carve out time. There will be days throughout your program where activities will end mid-day or you may have the entire day off. Take advantage of that free time to knock out some of that homework! Designating periods of time to do your coursework in advance holds you to a schedule. An incentive for completing your work could be dinner with friends, a much needed nap, or a visit to the beach.
- Find a study buddy. Although I prefer working alone in a quiet environment, sometimes it’s easier to get work accomplished if you and a friend agree to sit down and crank out that assignment together. You hold each other accountable, and working alongside someone else on the trip reduces the amount of fomo you may have if you’re on your own!
- Find a study spot. Take advantage of the beauty around you while abroad. Much like studying in the IU Arboretum or reading a book by Showalter Fountain, you can find so many coffee shops, parks, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants to stay on top of your coursework while you are abroad.
- Work ahead. From one college student to another, I know how impossible those two words sound. Trust me, it’s possible and totally worth it. My SPEA in Israel program is only 2 short weeks. The thought of spending my final day in Israel writing a paper in solitude while the rest of my peers are out enjoying the city one last time, because they worked ahead, is what forced me not to procrastinate. And I’m beyond thankful for that.
Your experiences abroad are ones unlikely to be surpassed. Enjoy your time, learn all you can, and remember these tips when balancing work and play during your trip!