The “Studying” of Study Abroad: Embracing Academics

christina zogopoulou headshot
Christina Zogopoulou
May 13, 2024

Studying abroad is to most of us synonymous with adventure, exploration, and cultural immersion. It’s about stepping out of your comfort zone, embracing new experiences, and meeting new people. But amidst this excitement of “discovering,” the "study" part of study abroad can sometimes take a backseat. After all, who wants to spend their time buried in textbooks when there are museums to visit, local cuisine to taste, and a new language to learn?

However, as someone who has embarked on this journey, I've come to realize the importance of a balance between academics and immersion. It's not about sacrificing one for the other, but rather finding harmony between the two.

For me, this balance begins with a shift in perspective. Instead of viewing my classes as separate from my experience abroad, I see them an integral part of the whole. But choosing the right classes is key. Do not submit your assignments based on chasing grades but rather ask yourself: What topics are you curious about? What skills would you like to learn? What aspects of the host country are the most interesting to you?

One example of this mindset shift occurred during my Spanish class. Instead of approaching a poetry assignment as just an academic exercise, I used it as an opportunity for personal reflection. I did not write this poem to get a good grade or to meet assignment criteria; it was an expression of my own journey and values.


So I would like to share my poem:

Kami es mi papá esperándome en la estación del bus después de ser al extranjero para 5 meses, 

es comer franui y pochoclo mientras veo mi serie favorito a la noche de un dia cansadora,

sudar después de 5 horas bailando 

ir a la playa, 

el sol tocando mi piel 

un atardecer con mi mejor amiga 

o cocinar para personas que amo y 

reir sin parar con ellas.

Lograr algo que queria despues de mucho esfuerzo 

Un almuerzo familiar de mi plato griego favorito 

Encontrar amor de nuevo después de perder fe y confianza

Un beso 

gritando en el concierto de mi artista favorito

Sentarme abrazada con mis papas 

O tomar una cerveza con mis mejores amigos 


Pero los kamis se encuentran también en los momentos más simples: 

Como cuando cogo el autobús en el último momento, o cuando veo una familia en un parque, un papá con su hijo jugando fútbol, 

un bebe con su mama 

O un músico en la calle tocando la guitarra.

Un kami simple es recibir y dar amor sin razón, 

Una canción que descubrí que no puedo parar escuchar

O Una canción que expresó exactamente lo que estaba sintiendo

Un chocolate

Una caminata en la naturaleza

El olor de un perfume lindo de un extraño

Una sorpresa 


Los kamis, en realidad, se encuentran en nosotros mismos

Son un signo de fe, un signo de vitalidad


(English translation)

Kami is my dad waiting for me at the bus station after being abroad for 5 months,

it's eating franui and popcorn while watching my favorite series after a tiring day,

It’s sweating after 5 hours of dancing,

going to the beach,

the sun touching my skin

a sunset with my best friend

or cooking for people I love and

laughing endlessly with them.

Achieving something I wanted after much effort

A family lunch of my favorite Greek dish

Finding love again after losing faith and confidence

A kiss

screaming at my favorite artist's concert

hugging my parents

Or having a beer with my best friends


But kamis are also found in the simplest moments:

Like when I catch the bus at the last moment, or when I see a family in a park,

a dad playing soccer with his son,

a baby with it’s mom

Or a musician on the street playing the guitar.

A simple kami is receiving and giving love without reason,

A song that I discovered and can't stop listening to

Or a song that expressed exactly what I was feeling

A chocolate

A walk in nature

The scent of a nice perfume from a stranger

A surprise


Kamis, actually, are found within ourselves

They are a sign of faith, a sign of vitality.


So all this to say that studying abroad is more than just completing assignments, earning credits, or getting good grades—it is a journey of personal growth and reflection. I think that passion and authenticity are key when it comes to learning. 

christina zogopoulou headshot

Christina Zogopoulou

I am a travel enthusiast; originally from Greece but have lived in three different continents, including Asia, Europe, and North America. I am excited to live in Buenos Aires and love the constant movement of the city and its vibrant culture.

Home University:
Claremont McKenna College
International Relations
Explore Blogs