Studying in the United States is an exciting experience filled with many opportunities that you may not find or may have difficulty finding elsewhere. As your time in the country winds down, you may be worried that you haven’t gotten the most out of your study abroad experience. To ease your mind, check out the following three things that you should do before your study abroad experience ends:
1. Find a mentor
It’s often said that, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Knowing the right people can be essential to advancing your career, which is why it’s important to make connections while studying abroad in the U.S. Set a goal to find a mentor—someone whose career you would like to emulate or who has connections in the area you are studying. Your professors are a great place to start. You might also find a mentor in a guest lecturer who has come to speak to your class. Whoever it is, reach out to him or her to meet outside of the normal classroom setting, if possible. Set up a time to get coffee or lunch, and tell your mentor about your career goals. He or she will likely be able to offer helpful advice as you pursue that path. It’s also key to keep in touch with your mentor, even after you leave the United States.
2. Check out other academic areas
You may have already chosen your area of study, or you might have a career path in mind, but it doesn’t hurt to see what else is out there too. If the university where you are studying is particularly well known for a specific discipline, attend a lecture about that topic. Many universities have important guest lecturers or professors who are the top experts in their respective fields. Even if you aren’t pursuing that field as a career, it can be a unique opportunity to sit in and listen to an expert speak about the material he or she knows best.
3. Look for opportunities outside class
It’s easy to stick to the comfortable schedule of going to class and then back to your apartment or dorm, but you could be missing out on a world of other opportunities that await you. The U.S. is a leader in many areas, and innovation and research often happen at the university level. You may be exposed to some of that research through class, but you also may not be. If you aren’t, or if you just want to learn more, look for opportunities outside of class to get involved with such experiences. Don’t limit yourself to what’s available on campus—ask your professors if there are opportunities off campus that you can also pursue.
The most important advice to keep in mind is to look for opportunities everywhere you can. U.S. universities are busy, exciting places with much to explore. It can seem overwhelming, but if you do your research, you’ll find many beneficial and interesting experiences.
Catherine Martin is a contributing writer for UniversityTutor.com, the world’s largest global marketplace for finding independent tutors.