How to Time Manage Your Study Abroad

When you decide to study abroad there is a lot to take into consideration. The location of the program you want to be a part of, the cost, and most importantly the length of time you will be abroad. The length of time will really dictate what you be able to accomplish, and how you need to time manage your study abroad. For me, my semester is 13 weeks long, leaving me to want to make the most of my time in Stirling, Scotland. “What will I see today?,” “where am I going to this weekend?,” “can I finish that homework before my train?,” and “what time do I need to get that train to make it back for class?” are questions always running through my head these days.

Culross is a picturesque city that’s easy to get to for a day trip from Stirling

So I am here this week to talk to you about time management. The big difference I feel this time studying abroad is that time is moving so fast and there is so much I want to do in the short amount of time I am here. That is including making travel plans months ahead of time, and last minute. Not having class everyday is great because it allows me to make day trips to the nearest biggest cities, like Glasgow and Edinburgh. But I also am part of two groups for my classes that need to meet outside of class. So what do I prioritize?

I found that being very strict with my time has been best. Limiting my time on my phone has been the hardest, but it is necessary. The pace of life in Scotland is much slower than back home and that is working both for and against me. I can catch a very early or a late train, but if I take that late train to whatever city am I going to be able to get a meal? If I forget my toothbrush will I be able to get one at the local shop? While these things may seem like small inconveniences, they are important to consider, as these small details can add to the stress of travel.

Finding ways to travel while taking class schedules into consideration has been one of the hardest things to do. When looking at tickets the cost of midweek tickets gets me very excited, but then I have to remember I do have other commitments on campus. As much of a planner that I am, I have to remember that no amount of planning can ensure everything will go according to that plan. As the Scottish autumn slowly begins to bring colder weather and more rain, the eminent promise of delays looms over my travel plans. Will weather cause me to lose hours and thus, money?

My best advice is give yourself more time than you think you will need just in case a heavy rain makes more people rely on public transport to get where they need to go. On a rainy day what is normally a 10-15 minute ride into town, can easily turn into a 30-45 minute trip as more people need to get on and off at what seems to be EVERY stop.

Sometimes the delays occur due to things out of your control (aka the lovely Scottish weather). This past weekend I was on a train back up to Scotland from England and the train I was on was delayed by 30+ minutes because of weather causing delays with other trains and no space on the platforms. So instead of getting home at 5, I was back at my dorm around 8. Don’t fret, if you miss your train, if you ask a staff member they will usually tell you what train to catch and offer advice.

Classes have been in session and for me, taking upper level (4th year at the University of Stirling, may be 3rd year courses elsewhere) I am still trying to figure out what I am doing. However, the reassurance I have is that my classmates are just as confused as I am. I’m taking two classes where I am working in groups, and in our confusion have taken the initiative and taking a very hands on approach to tackle our term projects.

Filming a crisis communication video on iPhones for our Social Media Marketing Strategies Class (a 3rd year compulsory course at the University of Stirling)

Setting up meetings and deadlines for our small goals has been helping us keep on track and bring questions to our lecturer on the one day that we meet for class the following week. We are keeping each other on track and holding one another accountable. So this is a huge help in my time management. For a person who usually despises group work, I’m very happy with who I am working with.

Rose Muy-Sanchez is a first-generation student from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She studied abroad in Stirling, Scotland during fall 2019. You can read more about her time abroad on her blog, Mid Youth Crisis.