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Making the Best of Your Schedule Abroad

After adjusting to life in San Jose, I've now found myself  trying to create ways to maximize my stay here by making the best of my time and resources. When you're in a new environment and are left with taking in the culture shock and new routine,  it can feel like a challenge deciding how to manage it all. Three areas of my life where I've sought a solution to manage  my stay here are with planning my weekend schedule in advance, taking up extra activities to fill up the extra time I have during the week, and by looking for places where I can study effectively.

Planning your weekends in advance

 A view from my weekend trip to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Studying abroad with CEA will guarantee you the opportunity to go on a few excursions on the weekends, but after the excursions are finished, and you're faced with extra free time on the weekends, there's further deciding what to do to have fun. One solution that I've found in making sure my weekends aren't a drag is planning them in advance. There's is so much to do in Costa Rica, and planning extra travel for  the weekends has helped me to look forward to traveling to great spots like beaches and national parks when I'm not in school.

Taking up an extra hobby or activity

 The daycare center where I've been able to play with Tico children during the week.

I've been confronted with having a lot of extra free time out of classes, and one thing that I've done that has helped me to make valuable use of my time outside of class is by  volunteering for a local organization. CEA provided me with several opportunities to volunteer during the week or on the weekends, and these experiences have given me the opportunity to engage with other Ticos. Right now, I volunteer at a daycare center once a week where I'm able to play with adorable Tico children, and the joy that I've had just being able to play with these kids for a few hours has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had here so far.

Making creative ways to maximize study time

 A beautiful backyard garden at CEA´s San Jose location.

There are a lot of places in San Jose where students can go to do homework and study, and by taking the time to explore the city, I've been able to find several nice restaurants and coffee shops where I'm able to study with minimal distractions. Just taking the time out to explore my surroundings has brought these benefits, and now I can go to cool places that get me more excited to do my schoolwork. Another great aspect about CEA in San Jose is that students have an office location where we can study in quiet classrooms or in the backyard complete with a beautiful garden.

These are just a few ways where students can make the most of their time abroad, and as I've mentioned, the benefits I've received from changing a few patterns in my schedule has helped me to maximize my experience here. Consider these tips when planning to study abroad for a more fulfilling experience.

Lois Charm is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in San Jose, Costa Rica. She is currently a junior at the University of Memphis.

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