68 Better Questions to Ask Than “How Was Study Abroad?”

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IES Abroad
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Friends who have already studied abroad can be some of your best resources when preparing to study abroad. They will have months of memories and stories worth sharing, and advice on how to get from choosing a program to making the most of your experience of a lifetime. 

However, it’s often hard to verbalize all of those experiences when most people vaguely ask “how was it?” When you sit down to learn all the details about study abroad from a friend who has already been there, done that, do yourself – and your friend – a favor and ask questions that prompt a deeper conversation that will actually prepare you!

To get you started, here are 68 questions better than “how was study abroad?” on everything from planning & predeparture to food, travel, housing, and more!

Planning & Predeparture

  1. Did you always know you wanted to study abroad?
  2. What made you want to study abroad in your location?
  3. How did you pick your program?
  4. What did you pack that you definitely didn’t need?
  5. What were you excited about and/or nervous about before you left?


Academics & Language

  1. How were classes different there from classes here?
  2. Which class was your favorite?
  3. What is your favorite phrase/word to say in the language you learned?
  4. What advice do you have for immersing yourself in a new language?



  1. What was the food like?
  2. What new foods did you try?
  3. What is the weirdest thing you ate?
  4. What kind of food did you miss?


Service Learning & Internships

  1. How did you get involved in the community?
  2. What did you do at your service-learning placement or internship?
  3. In what ways did your placement or internship inform your future goals?


Daily Life

  1. What advice would you give to another student?
  2. What was the most surprising thing you did or saw?
  3. Describe your favorite day.
  4. How safe did you feel there?
  5. What was the weather like?
  6. Were there any clichés that were proven true or false?
  7. Did you learn anything about politics there, or here?
  8. Was there anything unique about studying abroad in that place at this time? For example, any current events that happened?
  9. Did you listen to local music? What was it like?
  10. What is in style there?



  1. How did you get around?
  2. What was public transportation like?
  3. What was your favorite travel experience?
  4. What was your favorite place that you traveled to?
  5. Did you find any cool places that you weren’t expecting?
  6. What kind of free activities did you find?
  7. What is one touristy thing you would not recommend doing?
  8. What is one touristy thing that is totally worth it?



  1. What was your housing situation like?
  2. What housing options were you able to choose from?
  3. How did you decide which housing option was best for you?
  4. What were the people you lived with like?


Friends & Family

  1. How did you keep in touch with people while you were abroad?
  2. How did it work for you to have a cell phone while abroad?
  3. How did you meet people?
  4. Will you stay in touch with people?
  5. What were the locals you met like?
  6. What were the people like on your program?
  7. What was the most common thing people asked you about where you are from?


Finances & Budgeting

  1. How did you budget for your time abroad?
  2. Did you spend more or less than you thought?
  3. Were there any expenses you weren’t expecting?
  4. Are there scholarships or grants that you would recommend applying for?


Personal Growth

  1. What is one thing did you expect that wasn’t actually true?
  2. What was the hardest adjustment you had to make?
  3. Did you have any embarrassing moments abroad?
  4. Did you cross anything off your bucket list?
  5. What was the most interesting thing you learned about the culture?
  6. What did you learn about your own culture by living in another one?
  7. How did you deal with homesickness?
  8. What did you learn about yourself?
  9. How are you different? How are you the same?


Returning Home

  1. Did you experience jetlag when you came back? How did you overcome it?
  2. Did you experience reverse culture shock? In what ways?
  3. Where are you going next?
  4. Will you go back? When?
  5. What is the number one thing you’re excited to do now that you’re back?
  6. Did you bring back any souvenirs?
  7. What is one thing you wish you could have brought back with you?
  8. What do you think of the length of your program? Was it a good amount of time to be abroad?
  9. What is one thing you would change about your study abroad experience?
  10. How would you describe study abroad in five words?

Leave no question unanswered! Contact an IES Abroad Ambassador who has recently returned from studying abroad and is excited to share their advice and experiences with you.

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