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January 5, 2023, by aayar4

Making the Most of Studying Abroad at a Liberal Arts College

By Amaia Robertson Nogues, BA American Studies and English.

During my exchange year at Middlebury College (Vermont, USA) it was easy to get lost in the endless readings, the weekly reports and pop quizzes (the bane of my existence). When in a new place, you can lose sight of bigger goals (whether that be to research career prospects, make new friends, or send countless landmark selfies back home to your mum).

So, here’s some tips to help you get the most out of your time abroad: 

1. Be goal-orientated

Firstly, write down what you want to get out of your year away. This is the perfect plane activity and although it may sound a little silly, I found this to be incredibly useful. Think about your goals, whether that be academic, travel, or maybe you really want to join the local Quidditch team. Either way, make a note of what you want to achieve that you can refer back to throughout the year. This can really help you stay focused on what you want to invest your time in whilst abroad.

2. Don’t sweat the small stuff

One of the unique things about going to an American college is that professors usually have a much more personal relationship with students than in the UK. Some professors have more flexible deadlines than others and making sure they know how great you are before you ask for your third extension can help plead your case. Also, there are many kinds of grading options available: pass/fail classes, no credit modules, and even grading contracts where you grade yourself. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, these are great options to talk to professors about!

Liberal Arts Colleges especially are surprisingly open to final projects featuring interpretive dance, unique video essays, and even board game projects. Obviously, this depends on the class (don’t expect to dance your way through Calculus 101), but if you’re interested in trying something new, it is definitely worth following up.

3. Networking

One of the advantages of going to a college in the middle of nowhere is that nearly everything is run by students. From dining services, research, to administrative roles, you can get involved in pretty much anything. Whilst this might be daunting, it provides unique opportunities. You can help professors write their papers or get involved with some interesting internships, so make sure you scope out what is available. You can also get in contact with your favourite staff yourself and see if they have any opportunities specifically for you.

Networking is an essential skill to have, and the liberal arts environment is the perfect place to practise it. Get talking to peers, being active on your LinkedIn and develop those relationships as much as possible. You never know in what unique ways it could pay off!

If you want to learn more about the Study Abroad opportunities available, check out some of the great resources on the Careers Service website.

Posted in Student Bloggers