Grades might be the last thing on your mind when you study abroad — until you get your next report card.
You don’t want to waste the time and opportunities you have in a foreign country, but you don’t want to waste your tuition money, either. Strike a balance between sightseeing and academic studies abroad.
Check how your home university counts academic studies abroad. Some factor the class grades into your grade point average. Other universities transfer the credits but not the grades, so your GPA isn’t affected. Without the threat of a tumbling GPA, you might be willing to challenge yourself with more difficult academic studies abroad or with courses taught in a foreign language.
Either way, you won’t want to ignore your academic studies abroad altogether. The classes you take when you study abroad might be necessary for more advanced classes you’ll take at your home university.
Decide what you want to get out of your academic studies abroad.
If you can take general education or elective classes while abroad, you might be able to choose courses that are easier or less stressful that still meet your degree requirements.
However, if you take courses in your major or minor, you could make contacts abroad in your field of study. These connections could be important resources when you search for a job, and the skills you learn may bring a valuable international flavor to your job or internship resume. Potential employers may care less about your grades and more about how you dealt with a new environment abroad.
Also consider taking the minimum number of courses or credits permitted by your university that still allows you to remain a full-time student. One fewer class could mean a lot more time to practice your foreign language proficiency or explore the countryside.
Only you can determine how best to balance your study abroad experience with your academic studies abroad. Research your study abroad program as soon as possible to determine the types of classes you can take, and plan your course schedule at your home university accordingly. Don’t ignore your academic studies abroad, but also don’t lose the chance to immerse yourself in a new culture because you’re too worried about grades.