Benjamin Saff: The “Study” Part of Study Abroad.

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The most talked about aspects of study abroad are never about studying. Yes, it’s a real thing. For me, it is getting closer and closer to finals period and the studying aspect is becoming more and more real. Of course I always attended classes up until now. But as soon as class is over, I would be carefree; finals never crossed my mind. Now the time is looming over me, I now notice that exams wait ominously for me at the end of this month. It is especially intimidating here in Mannheim. Not only is your entire class grade riding on one exam, but also on memorization. Yes, memorization. I thought I escaped it in grade school but apparently not. Mannheim Business School is very theory-driven and expects pretty much word for word definitions. Mannheim also does not always provide supplementary work to keep your mind sharp and familiar with the topics. It is largely an independent effort, one which can easily be overlooked or underestimated by someone from another education system. And although not all international universities may focus on memorization, there is definitely a greater amount of independent study and final exam emphasis.

To succeed in your studies abroad, I recommend to utilize an agenda or to do list to keep your head in the game. It is super easy to become distracted and drawn away from your studying responsibilities, so while your duties are still fresh in your mind, write them down, set an alarm, do whatever you can to avoid forgetting. Secondly, befriend your university veterans, people that have been here longer than you and know how the system works. You can learn great study tips from them and learn a bit more about what to expect in your final exam. This should go without saying – Pay Attention in lectures! I’ve already met so many people here that just attend class and waste their time on their laptops instead of actually listening to the professor. I understand the struggles, especially when you have a flat-toned lecturer who just can’t keep the material interesting, but fight through it, write stuff down, highlight things. The last thing you want to do is have 10+ sets of slides to go through with completely foreign material right before exams.

Simply put, Study Abroad is not all fun and travel. You will meet academic challenges while you are here just like you have at your home university. Keep your head in the game, don’t forget you are a student too and not just a traveler. Best of luck!

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