20 Study Abroad Dos and Don'ts to Make the Most of Your Experience

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IES Abroad

Study abroad is such an exciting adventure, and you’re about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime journey! So, of course, you want to know all there is to know. And, of course, we want to help. With so many IES Abroad programs and opportunities to choose from, we know the process to get to your host country can seem extensive. You still want to know what the reality of study abroad will be like after filling out all of your forms, handling things for your passport, and connecting with your chosen program on socials. Like those before you, we know you have tons of questions.

The Marketing team recently met with our College Relations and Advising team and decided to do a round-robin of their study abroad dos and dont's. These team members not only support students throughout their study abroad journeys, but many have also lived the experience themselves. So, without further ado (get it?)...here are 20 dos and don’ts we compiled to share with you!


  • Do step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to try new things—cuisine, sports, hobbies, etc. There is so much to see and do.
  • Do practice patience with yourself.  You’ll learn as you go and as you experience, don’t rush your experience.
  • Do set goals and don’t be hard on yourself if they shift. Things are constantly changing and pivoting. Focus more on flexibility than on rigid goals that give you no room to breathe.
  • Do learn to cook a meal that is traditional to your location so you can share with your loved ones when you return home. This is a great way to connect with your local community and show appreciation for the food and culture.
  • Do make an effort to learn the local language. Even if you aren’t as fluent, the local community will appreciate your efforts and often help you learn more!
  • Do evaluate your relationships and friendships prior to studying abroad. You want freedom, adventure, and support, make sure those around you want that for you, too.
  • Do challenge your assumptions. There is so much to explore, try to remain open-minded to what you’ll encounter.
  • Go on an adventure and know that you are in a constant process of creation.
  • Do lean on your IES Abroad Center staff. We are here to support you!
  • Do a homestay and connect with local families within your community.


  • Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Self-care is still essential even while studying abroad. Create a routine that works for you.
  • Don’t stay connected with home 24 hours a day, be present in the place where you are. You didn’t come this far to only stay connected with your home. Being present will help you create a new home within this space.
  • Don’t forget to do the things you like doing while you’re abroad, don’t forget to do the things that make you, you.
  • Don’t forget your SPF or sunscreen no matter where you are in the world. Always protect your skin and know it is essential for everyone, regardless of racial background.
  • Don’t be too discouraged if they respond to you in English when you’re trying to speak your host country’s language. Keep practicing. It’s the only way to get better.
  • Don’t go abroad with friends you already have, be open to making new friends.
  • Don’t compare your experience with other people who are studying abroad. Your experience will be uniquely your own. Document it, dissect it, direct it however you see fit.
  • Don’t feel like you have to push yourself just because your friends are. Remain authentic to the experiences you want to have.
  • Don’t forget you’re not alone. You have so many resources and people here to support you throughout this new and exciting experience.
  • Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Keep your heart open to who you may meet, whether that means meeting other people, or new versions of yourself.

If you're still considering your decision to study abroad, here's an amazing open letter written to you from one of our Fall 2021 IES Abroad Milan students to give you the push you need.

Want more tips for your study abroad journey? Connect with a past student Ambassador who's lived it, or apply now to start your own adventure. 

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