This week’s Washington Post Sunday magazine was an Education edition, and had several good pieces. One was a reflection on making the most of your semester studying abroad. It offered life lessons like learn the city, set goals, travel, keep a diary, live with a host family, learn the language. All these are excellent suggestions. But the author omits one more: Work! Yes, go to class and do your homework. But more than that, find a job. You may not have a visa that permits you to find paid employment. And you may not speak the language. No problem: you find an internship. You speak English, and so will many companies – American (or British) or not. You can apply to intern in any of the U.S. government offices – embassy, consulate, etc. NGOs, law firms, and many others will be interested as well.
Some universities’ study-abroad offices will help you with this – The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.), for example, has programs in the Ireland and UK parliaments, and with aid organizations in El Salvador.
Yes, by all means, learn the language, travel as much as you can, go to class, meet people from all over, enjoy the nightlife – and get some professional experience. It’s a global world – show your future employers you know and you are ready.