30 Things to Do in 30 Days of a Study Abroad Exchange

30 Things to Do in 30 Days of a Study Abroad Exchange

The picture is of my host father and I dancing a traditional waltz at a wedding.

Adjusting to a study abroad program can be a challenging adventure, but by keeping active you’ll be able to start adjusting to life in a new country. Here are 30 things to do in the first month of your exchange!


  1. Spend lots of time outside of the house. Whether you live in a city or a rural town, there is always something to do.
  2. Try local foods! Even if it looks gross, do it for the experience. Let your tongue be the judge, not your eyes.
  3. Go to a wedding, funeral, or baptism. The customs are very different and interesting in each country.
  4. Go to a festival or party to experience the celebration styles and music.
  5. Do things with friends after school and on the weekends. Your new relationships should not be limited to your family.
  6. Go shopping, and go to the non-touristy shops as well. It is very interesting to notice differences in fashion, the varieties of products, and the stores.
  7. You might gain a few pounds or exhaust yourself from staying up late at a wedding, but it is totally worth it for the experiences you will have.
  8. Learn a traditional dance or song from your host country. It’s very fun!
  9. Every night. In twenty years, you’ll want to remember every detail of your exchange.

Family Life:

  1. Talk with your host family. Read a book and relax in the family room, so that you have many opportunities for conversation. Your book can always wait-your experience abroad cannot!
  2. Bake/cook a dish from your home country for your host family-they love to get a taste of your culture as well.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask your host family for small favors to make your transition easier and to make you happier (such as buying more fruit or going to yoga). They want you to be happy just as much as you do.
  4. Give your family gifts. Gifts as small as pieces of candy with thank you notes attached show your appreciation.
  5. Do things with your host siblings- if you have young siblings, play with them. If you have older siblings, see a movie or exercise with them.
  6. Keep a clean room and offer to help clean the house. Most families appreciate tidiness.
  7. Do the shopping every so often. You are an extra mouth to feed and this is one way you can thank your family.
  8. Smile! Families get so sad when their exchange students are quiet and don’t show interest in activities.
  9. Introduce your family to a popular movie in your home country. This will help them learn your language and your interests.
  10. Buy a map of your home country and show your host family where you live, as well as major cities. They can put the map up in the kitchen or living room.
  11. Show pictures of your biological family and home country to your host family.
  12. Ask your host family to see pictures of their holidays, events, and family. They love it when you show interest in their lives.

Language Development:

  1. Watch a little TV in your host country’s language. It will help you learn new words and understand the speech patterns more easily.
  2. Learn ten new words a day. After a month, you will have learned three hundred words!
  3. Read a book in your country’s language-you’ll develop your vocabulary and comprehension without even realizing it.

Dealing with Homesickness:

  1. Expect the homesickness. It is much better to be prepared for it and not experience it than to experience it and be caught off-guard.
  2. Bring food and listen to happy music from home. In the first two or three weeks, you will miss home. These things will make it better.
  3. Sleep! You will be exhausted from learning a new language and adjusting to a new environment. You will be happier and less homesick and emotional if you sleep.
  4. If you like to exercise, continue! It relieves stress. There are many types of exercise typical of each country. In Austria, I take a gymnastics class that specifically prepares people for skiing!
  5. Make a schedule. A set schedule to talk with your biological family, exercise, do things with your host family, and have a little time to yourself will decrease homesickness and stress.

And, finally:

  1. Remember what you came for. Enjoy the culture and don’t stay in your room all day. Try not to dwell on missing home too much, because when you do return home, you will regret not living in the moment. Don’t do anything that will buy you a ticket back home earlier than expected. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to an uncomfortable situation. Have fun, grow as a person, and learn more about yourself and the world than you have ever learned before!

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