By: Jaimie Cryder, University of Victoria, winner of the BC Study Abroad: Stories from Abroad Scholarship

Study Abroad Destination: Europe

Your flight is booked and you’ve started packing your bags. Now it is time to set intentions for your time abroad. Once you are on the road, time tends to speed up. Although this is my first field study experience, I expect this to be especially true when studying abroad. This is an exciting opportunity to learn in a new country; fully immersed in your subject of choice. However, deadlines do not cease to exist when you enter a new time zone. You don’t want to find yourself at that the end of your trip feeling like you could have gained more from the experience. To ensure that you make the most of your time abroad it is essential that your planning includes setting intentions. In other words, you need to take the time to ask yourself some important questions. What do you want to learn? Why are these particular things important to you? What practices will support you in achieving these learning goals? Establishing awareness of your hopes for your trip increases the potential for meaningful personal growth.

Once you have taken the time to craft your personal learning goals, there are a few strategies for increasing the probability of achieving them. First, outline clear practices and parameters to measure your progress. This will provide you with a framework to fulfill your aspirations and track your development. Second, bringing a journal to collect your thoughts and reflect on your experiences is key. A journal provides a space for you to check in with yourself and gauge growth. Finally, find a buddy to hold you accountable. This could be a peer participating in your field school or a friend from home. By sharing your goals with another person it allows you to further develop your understanding of why these goals are important while building yourself a support network.

In a week I will be flying to Seville, Spain. This will be the first stop on my one-month field school exploring urban sustainability in seven major European cities. An area of personal development I have chosen to focus on is skills in facilitating collaboration within a team setting. Being able to galvanize meaningful collaboration in a group is an important leadership skill because inspiring people to work towards a common purpose is essential in addressing many of today’s issues. By mapping out my intentions I aim to take advantage of the unique opportunities studying abroad provides me in order to build invaluable skills both in the classroom and beyond. I encourage you to do the same!

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