Whenever I told others I was going to be studying abroad in Japan, most responses went along the lines of “Wow! That’s going to be so much fun!” and “I’m so jealous! I’d love to go traveling right now”. Of course, I thought similarly, but in addition to that, I was well aware of the responsibilities that came along with study abroad. Besides it being a fun learning experience in a new environment, I still have grades to maintain. Being in Japan for over a month now, I’ve done my best to keep up with daily assignments while also taking time to socialize. For this post, I’d like to discuss my experience in working to maintain that balance of academic and social time, as well as making sure to have time to myself.
In one of my previous journals, I wrote about the importance of isolation while abroad. While time for yourself is important, I think it’s also necessary to take the time to socialize, even if you are not the type of person to do so. As a person who prefers being alone, or only with a few close friends, forcing myself to join group outings has challenging at times. Sometimes it’s a drag, it’s exhausting, it gives you less time to do your homework or rest, but I can wholeheartedly say that it’s worth it. If you’re an introvert studying abroad, or you’re afraid to socialize, by all means give it a try. The past few weeks have been great mainly because I’m sharing my study abroad experience with other people. Also, you may not be able to become friends with everyone, and that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and find a small friend group that you find yourself enjoying being around. Considering everyone is a study abroad student like you, they also want to socialize with you and make friends.
Putting care into your academic lifestyle is also a necessity while abroad. While creating relationships with your classmates and housemates, it’s also important to maintain a good relationship with your professors and put a decent amount of time into classwork, just like you would back home. If you are the type of person who has trouble focusing on schoolwork and place more attention to socializing, try to mix your schoolwork into your social time! Create study groups with friends and have homework dates, make plans to hang out with your roommate and do homework together, or maybe have a study date then go out to eat afterwards. Whatever it is, keep in mind that while abroad it’s important to value your academic responsibilities just as much as your social ones. It’s definitely hard to balance them out at times, but it’s worth putting the effort in. Professors, program coordinators, roommates and classmates alike are also here to help you create a balanced lifestyle while abroad. Whatever it may be, asking for help is always a good thing to do if needed!