Balancing my ASU Online courses with both travel and life in a foreign country takes effective time management, planning, and focus in order to be academically successful in my classes.
To stay focused on my coursework while traveling, I’ve found that taking classes relevant to my personal interests is the best way to keep my attention levels and productivity high. Because I am studying sociology and anthropology, I am able to relate what I’m learning in my courses to what I’m actually experiencing in my travels or my day-to-day life abroad. If I’m required to take a course that isn’t so applicable to my travels, my planner is the best tool when it comes to remaining focused. I plan ahead and write down specific times for me to work on my classes. That way when I’m traveling, I will know exactly when I need to take time away from exploring night markets or strolling cobblestone streets to sit down with my laptop instead.
While I’m away in another country, there’s no study spot I enjoy more than a local café. More often than not, I’ve found that Wi-Fi is readily available with a strong connection at cafés. Additionally, if I need a caffeine boost or snack, I can easily order a coffee or pastry there and get straight back to work. Doing coursework at a café is also nice because I’m still surrounded by the culture of the country I’m visiting because I’m working in a public space surrounded by the locals. In my experience traveling, I’ve generally never had trouble with Wi-Fi. Nonetheless, planning ahead and avoiding procrastination is an important step that could be taken in case an issue with Wi-Fi ever does occur.
Embracing new cultures and adjusting to a new way of life is both exciting and terrifying. The experience can be an emotional rollercoaster, and in turn, may affect school performance. The greatest defenses against culture shock are both knowledge and an open mind. Doing research on the cultural norms and customs of the country you’re traveling to can help prepare you for what’s to come. Even more important is to have an open mind to the different ways of life you’ll be experiencing. When you’re at peace and understanding with the culture you’re immersed in, the ups and downs of the emotional rollercoaster won’t seem as drastic and won’t have as an intense effect on the quality of your schoolwork.
Although there’s nothing that makes me happier than traveling to new places and living amongst a foreign culture, homesickness does creep in every once in a while. Video chatting or calling my family makes all the difference in the world to ease this. Simply hearing their voices fills my heart with love and comfort and all traces of homesickness disappear. Practicing gratitude also helps—saying thanks for the family I have back home and also for all the incredible experiences I get to have while traveling.