A Concordian abroad: 'Give yourself time to explore and have fun'
Meagan Boisse is an undergraduate student in the Department of Journalism, and a member of the Institute for Co-operative Education. For her last work term, she was employed as a roving reporter at Concordia.ca.
Now, through Concordia International, Boisse is spending the winter 2016 term studying at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark.
The honeymoon is over.
The sound of my morning alarm was a rude reminder that I’m not on holiday; that in fact, I’m here to study. From now on, I will be in school five days a week — save for Easter break — until the end of my exchange.
As excited as I am to be starting my program, TV Journalism and Foreign Reporting, it also means I can no longer be as frivolous with my time — much to the chagrin of my inner tourist.
Striking a balance between academia and experiencing a new culture and new places is an inevitable struggle encountered by international students.
While I came to Aarhus with grand plans to travel around Denmark and Europe, I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’ll have to be strategic about my trips, given the intensity of my course load and (small) size of my wallet.
Just this week I had to forego a trip to Dublin with a couple of other international students as my school schedule was less accommodating than theirs. Surprise, surprise: weekday travel is exponentially cheaper, but it’s something I won’t be able to do.
While I’m slightly perturbed by the thought that my new friends will be enjoying a Guinness while I’m in class, I’m trying to stay positive by reminding myself that plenty of other travel opportunities await me while I’m here.
It’s easy for me to get caught up thinking I have to do and see as much as humanly possible, so I don’t waste my time abroad. However, I’ve only just begun my exchange and the places I’m dying to see aren’t going to grow legs and walk away.
I think the trick to mastering this whole travel/study gig is to give yourself enough mental space to figure out how to do as much as comfortably possible, given budget and time constraints.
Don’t be afraid to ask your professor about the implications of missing classes, and don’t be afraid to wait for the right moment to go away — though I still encourage spontaneity!
Luckily for me there is an organization here called Studenterhus Aarhus, which regularly plans cheap weekend trips around Denmark specifically for students, something I plan to take full advantage of.
As for soon-to-be international students, consider making the trip to your new home at least a week prior to the start of classes. This will give you ample time to get settled in, explore the area a bit, and have some fun.
I’m happy I allotted myself a ten-day grace period before having to hit the books, so I had a chance to indulge my pesky, inner tourist.
Start your application for exchange today!