Study abroad: daily life, studying and roommates


Photo courtesy of UNO-Japan on Facebook

“I met amazing people [whom] I would have never met just being on campus,” UNO student Bond Ruggles said of meeting other students studying abroad. Pictured above are two students enjoying some free time in Japan.

Demi Guillory, Reporter

A group of UNO students shared their firsthand experiences studying abroad, giving insight into the study-life balance and life with new, unfamiliar people. For undecided students who may be interested in studying abroad but have apprehensions about the challenges of balancing studies with free time for exploration, their collective experiences may inspire them.

Classes in UNO’s study abroad programs run four days a week from Monday to Thursday, allowing students three full days to themselves.

UNO student Carolyn Suarez said this was extremely helpful for mastering the balance between studies and free time. Saurez limited herself to just two classes and scheduled them early in the day. Her classes were finished by noon, which allotted her the rest of the day to explore. And while she personally had no difficulty balancing the two, she realizes the prospect can seem overwhelming and offered some simple, straightforward advice — “know how to manage your time and don’t stress.”

Annemarie Picolo had a similar schedule and offered some of her own encouragement. “I’m a big procrastinator at times, but I really pushed to get my work done early on this trip, and that ended up being one of the biggest things I did to improve my experience,” she said.

Effective time management was something she learned studying abroad in Japan, allowing her to get “so much” more from the experience.

Picolo added that since classes end “really early” in the day, and once the “minimal” homework assigned is completed, “you literally have all afternoon, night and through to the next class period to explore.”

For Gabrielle Bonck, who studied in both Austria and Japan, finding the balance was not a challenge. “I’m a biology student getting a minor in history and have always been organized and on top of school,” she explained. Planning ahead and using time productively by reading on trains or buses is key, Bonck said. She understands that some may find it more difficult, however, and suggests preparing ahead of time while reminding students that they are earning credit for these classes, so it’s “important to take them seriously.”

New roommate assignments can also cause misgivings, but Harihar Ojha says she genuinely enjoyed getting to meet new people. He lived with roommates in both Costa Rica and Innsbruck. Ojha, who didn’t know anyone before going to both countries, said he “really enjoyed the company” and keeps in close contact with all his former roommates.

“These people are part of my life. I will never forget them,” he said. An international student originally from Nepal, Ojha now feels like he can call UNO his home because of the lifelong friends made through these programs.

Dylana Evans and Bond Ruggles did not have roommates, but they share the same sentiments. Ruggles, who studied in Innsbruck, paid extra money for his own room and joked that it was the best money he’s ever spent.

“However, my neighbors were amazing,” he said, referring to his two next-door neighbors from the University of Georgia. He also has kept in touch with them. “One of them was just in New Orleans, and we went to eat lunch to catch up,” he said.

In France, Evans lived in her own apartment within a student complex. She didn’t know anyone before the trip either, but bonded with many people she still talks to today. “There were many nights that we would have get-togethers outside the apartments or at the park, drinking wine and eating baguettes,” she said.

Ruggles had some parting encouragement for those left with no choice but to get a roommate. “Living with anyone has its challenges, but with so much to do, I do not think there was enough time for anyone to get on each other’s nerves,” he said. “It was just too easy to leave and find something to do alone or with a different person or group.”