Finding your hidden talent: extracurricular activities abroad
As you’ve moved into your new city and seen (most of) the sites and made your way through the various cafés, you might feel a little... bored. Surprising really, as you’ve just moved somewhere exciting and cool, you’re the envy of all your friends back home and you can’t seem to quite get why. Sure, you’ve done the museums, you’ve met some cool people, sorted out accommodation and you’ve even got yourself an internet connection. So now what? Although many students choose to spend their year abroad partying and going on trips, that’s not to say there isn’t time to practice something you love, in another language. Read on to find out more...
1. Choose an area of interest
This may seem quite an obvious point to make. However, think about your hobby or your interest carefully; what are your reasons for taking on this particular course, is it for lifestyle, pleasure or your future career? What are you planning on getting out of it, friends, skills or contacts? Is it on offer where you are working/studying or would you have to travel? What are the costs involved (course and equipment, if any)? Whether you’re interested in Politics, Paint-balling or Painting, you need to think about your reasons for taking on your extra classes and what you hope to achieve - however big or small, so as to offset disappointment. Sure, it’s great you’re learning a new skill in another language, but make sure you’re ticking the right boxes when it comes to your list of requirements.
2. Research your hobbies
Do your homework and research your interest by place, age group and level of fluency. Starting off with local universities and colleges, you may find something to suit your needs. Speak to your colleagues and/or student mates to find out about cultural centres scattered across town. Even if you’re living in the middle of nowhere, there may be an activity you would enjoy, just a stone’s throw away, if you look hard enough. The internet is your next port of call - check forums, type into your country specific search engine [chosen field of interest]+[country/town] and raid sites like Facebook and Twitter. You’d be surprised to see just how many fan pages or opportunities to ask are available, it’s just a question of doing a little bit of investigation work.
3. Link your interests with your career
Regardless of what you are planning on studying or practicing, it’s a good idea to find a common link between your interests and your career prospects. If you’re doing a course on Creative Writing, why not set up a blog or propose to write for a local student magazine? If you are taking a course on Tae-Kwon Do, create a video of what you’re up to, to show others and keep a record of your movements (excuse the pun). Baking cakes? Share your recipes and photos. Studying Economics? Share your thoughts in 149 characters via Twitter. Either way, you should use your interests to spark conversation, now and later on, with your peers. Creating a net of virtual and/or real memories will ensure you have concrete stuff to bring back home (and to a future interview).
The year abroad is the perfect time to get your teeth sunk into your favourite pastimes, as you’ll have time by your side as well as a thirst to try something new. Don’t leave without trying albeit a short course in something you love. You never know: it might bring some brilliant new pals into your life, spark off an idea for a dissertation or, come final year, bag you that job interview you were hoping for!
4. More country-specific information:
- Extracurricular classes on your year abroad in France
- Extracurricular classes on your year abroad in Germany
- Extracurricular classes on your year abroad in Spain
- Extracurricular classes on your year abroad in Italy
Have an amazing time!