Networking for Internationals (and Non-Internationals, too)

Two People Coffee Notebook

A few weeks ago I went to an interesting workshop for International Students where I learn a lot about NETWORKING. I know that many of us do not like networking…. Who likes to talk to a bunch of people they haven’t met in their life? No one. But the true is that NETWORKING is the way most people (in this case students) might find a job or at least can make a good connection. You never know, you can find a mentor or a friend, as well as good ideas and new perspectives about life and careers. The fact is that even though networking can be tough, it can be fun too.

I would like to share with you a few tips that I learn from Joselin Mane, a Social Media Strategist and Networking Guru. In his workshop Networking 2.0, I learned new things I never imagined would work to get to know new people.

First of all, we should start working with our Personal Brand. Create an original business card. Using a picture might be informal but it will make people remember you. Think about it, if you were at an event with 50 different business cards in your hand, you would really want to remember peoples’ faces. On the other hand, we should create a website (just a short bio is enough). Many of us have LinkedIn accounts, of course, but remember that recruiters will Google you, and the more information they find, the better. You can use free websites such as www.about.me or another websites builder such as www.wix.com

Other useful things:

  1. When meeting people, use something that won’t make them forget you. Example: flower in hair, special pin, etc. Use something colorful. Have you been to a career fair? Everyone is dressed in black and white! Its time to differentiate ourselves.
  2. Take pictures or selfies. Take this advice with precaution. Do it when you feel is right because the idea is making a good impression.
  3. Send those pictures in the follow up e-mail. Send a follow up email immediately. Don’t let them forget you.
  4. Practice your elevator speech as much as you can. Try to be natural and fluent.
  5. If you need to use a name tag, use it in your left side. They will see it better.
  6. If you engaged in a conversation remember people’s name. Everyone loves to be called by their names.
  7. Connect with people before the event when possible. Use social media.
  8. Reactivate your Twitter account (if it is a professional one), and put it on you name tag.
  9. Google yourself. Let’s see what the internet says about you.
  10. Join professional groups.

The idea of Networking is meeting new people to create a relationship that might benefit both of them. We just need to be ourselves acting naturally. We are not born to be liked by everyone, so don’t panic if someone ignores you.

If you want to know more about Networking, please visit Joselin Mane website http://bostontweetup.com/


Maria Martin is pursuing a Master in Project Management at Northeastern University. She is passionate about helping others in their personal and professional life. She is currently doing a full time paid co-op at Eversource in the Marketing and Sales Department. You can contact her at mariajesusmartin13@gmail.com

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Charles Leach

Class of 2010_Charles Leach

I am one of those people whose life is dictated by a well-organized calendar, complete with color codes and a series of notifications – if only I was the one maintaining the calendar.  I was the last class to graduate from the College of Criminal Justice August 2010. Shortly thereafter, I commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer, got engaged, and went off on a 4 year life changing adventure in the Marine Corps.  My intention was to depart the military, utilizing my co-op connections and proud service and apply for a position in a federal agency.  But my calendar notifications said otherwise.  With a child on the way, I was done moving around, working weekends, being away all week, or far away for 8 months at a time. I decided to depart the Marine Corps, move back home (North Shore area) and began a soul searching endeavor for a job – no, a profession, in which I could obtain the same emotional gratification that comes with service to one’s country.  As a lifelong people-person, I discovered I have a passion for sales, and have found a profession I love at a leading cybersecurity company. I also have decided to stay in the USMC Reserve to balance out the moral scale. If you have graduation in your sights, keep this in mind:

Have a plan and tenaciously pursue it – then change the plan when necessary. You can’t fake passion. You can get by having a work ethic, trying really hard, showing up early, staying late because it’s the right thing to do, but if you aren’t passionate about what you find yourself doing, move on.  It’s like a bad relationship. If you’re at the suitor stage, and you’re not going to marry this person, why waste each other’s time?

Short-term, mid-term, and long term goals are no joke, write them down – a recent manager of mine would refer to these as dreams and not goals.  Dream and keep dreaming because success stories are built upon people’s crazy ideas.

Be mindful of how you appear on social media and the interwebs – the old adage don’t put it online if you wouldn’t want it on the front page of the Boston Globe holds true.

Spend money and live life like your grandparents (if they were thrifty) – if you pack a lunch and make your own coffee in the morning and then go out on the weekend and blow a hundred bucks on 8 dollar beers, well that just doesn’t make sense – stop doing that.

I will close with a valuable lesson that has continually been reinforced for me recently.  You know better what’s for you than anyone else.  The idea of needing an adult’s opinion; well that’s you now.  No one really knows the magic formula and if they say they do, they are just pretending to know all the answers. Just google it and come up with your own way. If you don’t like what you are doing in life, just change it.

And remember, if you don’t like the job you’ll get soon, you can always go back to Northeastern for a Masters!


Charles Leach currently works at Bit9 + Carbon Black in Waltham, MA and lives with his family in the North Shore. He is open to and would welcome any networking conversation or casual chat.  Feel free to reach out to him via Linkedin or leach.charles@gmail.com.

Spring into a Stress Free Zone

(Source: www.arinite.co.uk)

Who coined the phrase “I love stress!”? That’s right—no one ever. Now here in the spring semester, it’s time to identify, shed away, and prevent future stressors in your professional life.

Even if in love with your job, everyone has felt some level of stress in the workplace. Stress is common, and even beneficial in spurts or small doses, however chronic stress can be debilitating to your physical and psychological health. Common sources of stress in the workplace include:

  • Lack of social support or respect
  • Lack of professional development and growth
  • Overwhelming job-related tasks or deadlines
  • Unclear expectations of performance
  • Unsatisfactory salary/wages

Below are just a few of the potential effects of chronic stress. Hint: none of them are good!

  • Headache
  • Short temper
  • Difficulty sleeping/waking
  • Lack of concentration
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression

It’s important to identify the above symptoms as warning signs of chronic stress levels. Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies to manage stress, both by prevention and treatment. Here are just a few:

  • Develop healthy habits. Surprise—exercise is good! Thankfully, you don’t need a gym to lead a fit, healthy lifestyle. Anything from yoga, to moderate walks, to regular stretching in the office or home can make a difference in keeping stress levels down. Eat a healthy, protein/fiber-rich breakfast in the morning. Even if it means waking up an extra 20 minutes earlier, it will be more beneficial to your health, focusing your mind and body on the tasks of the day. Lacking a hobby? Find or create one! Whether it’s making time to pick up a favorite novel, or going to casual social gatherings, it’s a great way to relax and take your mind off work.
  • Recharge—even while at work. Staring at a computer or phone for hours at a time, multiple days a week can have serious consequences for your stress level, even if you don’t realize it immediately. Find time during your office hours to briefly leave the desk. Have a conversation with a coworker, take an actual lunch or water break, or whatever helps you de-stress. Your to-do list will survive the short period that you’re away.
  • Make stress your best friend (no, that’s not a typo). Most of us have had that all-important paper or project due the next morning—with nothing done the night before. Many of us still have been tasked with delivering a presentation in front of 20, 30, even 100+ audience members, about a topic we don’t even fully understand ourselves. Sound familiar? Sweating by just reading this? You’re not alone. However, we know that increased levels of stress can light a light a fire under us, providing the burst of energy needed to get the job done. While this should not be the go-to method for every work-related task, stress can aid us in a pinch in times such as this.
  • Communicate with others. Everyone handles stress differently, that’s just a fact. However, we all have friends and colleagues who hold onto stress for far too long without talking it out with others. If you are one of those people, few things can help you manage stress better than communicating with others, whether it be your supervisor, colleagues, or a career counselor (Northeastern’s Office of Career Development can help with this!). If bringing up job-related stressors with your supervisor, keep in mind that the purpose is not to unload a laundry list of complaints; instead, it should be to mutually come up with a plan to effectively manage the stressors you’re dealing with. Tip: most supervisors and managers can connect the dots between healthy, productive employees and effective work product. Have the conversation—you might be relieved to how quickly a solution arises!

Don’t forget that the Office of Career Development can help you manage certain aspects of your stress levels. For instance, stressing over the idea of choosing a career path or switching majors? Having difficulties preparing for the eventual post-graduation lifestyle? Struggling with the process of finding a summer internship? Stop by the Stearns Center for a brief 15 minute walk in, or set up an hour-long appointment with a career counselor to have a conversation on how to meet your career goals!

This guest post was written by Jabril Robinson, a Career Devel­op­ment intern and grad­uate stu­dent in the Col­lege Stu­dent Devel­op­ment and Coun­seling pro­gram here at NU.

Resume “Power Verbs,” And Why You Need Them

resume pic

A resume is said to be a representation of your entire professional being, however, employers are now looking at your resume to see what you are actually capable of in the workplace, and what you could be capable of doing in the future. Convincing an employer you are the right person for the job all starts with the right words. Every word on your resume should be there for a reason- if the word serves no greater purpose, get rid of it! I believe that the most important words on a resume should be verbs, which I like to call power verbs. Every verb used to describe a work, volunteer, academic or personal experience should be meaningful, and show both your power and potential in one way or another.

Here are a few of my favorite power verbs, and why you should consider including them in your next resume revision:

Collaborate

In a recent article from Forbes titled “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates,” the ability to work in a team structure was listed as the number one skill employers seek in their future employees. And this skill is not limited to any one field- no matter where you are planning on applying for a job, odds are pretty high that you will be working with others. With all this said, it is important that you show your ability to be a team player on your resume with a power verb. I love the word collaborate, because it implies an ability to both give and receive from a group.

Oversee

Management and facilitation skills are especially impressive to employers (with no surprise, an ability to make decisions and solve problems was number two on the Forbes list), and you can imply you have both with “oversee.” Consider using the word oversee with regard to any leadership positions you have held, whether that be on campus or professionally.

Develop/Design

The verbs develop and design show professional creativity, and prove that you can come up with new ideas and ways to solve problems in the workplace. Both of these verbs are great if you want to show off your creative and innovative experience.

Improve

It seems obvious, but employers want to hire someone who will make their workplace better. They want someone who will make their systems better, their work environment better, and their lives easier. The power verb that shows you are the person for this is “improve.” You can improve just about anything, meaning you can use this verb to describe basically any experience you have on your resume.

Click here to read the full Forbes article.

 

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally. Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu. Look for Daniella’s posts every other Tuesday. 

Life as an ‘Expat’

Chulalongkorn University – Bangkok, Thailand

Chulalongkorn University – Bangkok, Thailand

Expatriate. Expat. American. Foreigner…or, more specifically in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand – farang.

Keep in mind, none of these are offensive terms, (at least in the way they are used here) just ways of categorizing a non-Thai national. I’m proud of my upbringing, my country, my town, and my city, much like any other American. However, when I stepped onto campus at Chula, (as local students and professors call it, short for Chulalongkorn University) I couldn’t help but feel like an outsider.

Sometimes, it was quite nice. During the first few weeks of my co-op with the Faculty of Public Health, and even now still, everyday was and is an exciting breath of fresh air. Each day in the lab or in the seminars, there were new faces to greet, hands to shake, and names to remember. Everyone drew themselves towards you, peppered you with questions, welcomed your every move, and guided you along new and unchartered waters.

At the university, I’ve met some outstanding scholars and academics from countries all over the world: Switzerland, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, and Indonesia to name a few. I’m the young gun, a sheep amongst lions. Many of these men and women are tried and true professionals in their fields, some even working in public health for longer than I’ve been on this planet.

It’s intimidating; especially when a major capstone of public health research is to generate new knowledge. New knowledge. This was something I struggled most with. In an age where information and data is translated and transmitted in the matter of seconds, my first and most immediate contention to this concept of generating new knowledge was, what more do I need to know? What contributions could I make? Today, we have access to a world of resources, a matrix of professionals, and with a little bit of ingenuity, 4G LTE cellphone service, and Googling skills, it’s quite easy to find the answers to everyday questions.

My supervisor, a dean at the school, put the facilities, budget, and libraries at my disposal. No 9 to 5, no need to clock-in or clock-out, and no deadlines other than presentations and meetings. It was a blessing. I was elated at the flexibility she was allowing for. However, I mistakenly became complacent with these offerings. I wandered in and out of the offices during the first few weeks, with no direction, and more dangerously, no purpose.

Complacency was a real working theme that had invaded my life. I remained a stranger to my colleagues, quietly and bashfully offering small talk to them before and after each seminar, failing to establish any legitimate linkages. I was okay with this. Part of me expected them to carry their first-day enthusiasm in our interactions, rather selfishly. After all, didn’t they know that I was empty handed? Didn’t they know I was in search of a research project? I expected them to share their insights and their expertise, unprompted. Another part of me was simply afraid. Was there any real way I could articulately voice my interests that wouldn’t make me seem naïve, young, or foolish?

This approach to my co-op experience however, was just those things, naïve, young, and foolish. I was estranging myself from a party of renowned experts and dedicated, lifelong learners. I was an outsider. I quickly became dissatisfied with my responses to these opportunities and realized that I was very much taking them for granted. I was cheating myself of a profound chance to be a part of a faculty of doctors, leaders, and politicians. Isn’t that what I came here for?

I’m an expatriate, expat, American, foreigner, farang…whatever you want to call it. Ways of life here in Bangkok are different. They’re new. They’re intimidating. At the faculty, the research, the rigor, the population, it’s different. It’s new. It’s intimidating. For too long, I found it acceptable to keep those things that way. So, what’s next?

 

John is a 4th year health sciences student at The Bouvé College of Health Sciences. With a nose for exploration and travel, John will be writing from Southeast Asia about his experiences on co-op in Surin and Bangkok, Thailand. There, he’ll be volunteering in community clinics, in addition to conducting public health research at Chulalongkorn University. Follow his adventures on Instagram: johnsirisuth.

How to End Your Co-op Strong

DeathtoStock_Wired2

The time has come where students are starting to end their co-ops. If you’re on a four month co-op, like I am, you might only have a few weeks left before you say goodbye to your coworkers and head back to school. So how do you end your co-op strong and make the most of your last few weeks or months?

Don’t slack off.

Just because you’re almost done doesn’t mean it’s time to stop doing your job. In fact, this is the time to really step up your game and get the most out of the end of your experience. You want to make sure you don’t leave with any regrets. Ask to attend those meetings you’ve been nervous to attend so far. After four months on the job, you know a lot about your work culture and how your organization runs. If it’s appropriate, your supervisor will be glad you’re showing initiative and you’ll get to learn that much more about your workplace.

Make sure you finish out all your work.

Before you leave your co-op, make sure that your supervisor knows the status of all your projects. You don’t want to be that person who leaves with all their work half-finished. Not only will this leave your office in a state of limbo, but it will also leave them with a bad impression of you.

Finish networking with your co-workers.

Is there that one person you’ve wanted to meet all semester and haven’t had a chance to yet? Reach out to them in your last few weeks! Take full advantage of the resources your co-workers can give you before you leave. Even though you can always get in touch with them once your co-op is over, it makes things a lot easier when your cubicles are down the hall from each other! And don’t forget to get the contact information of your supervisor and other colleagues in case you need a reference in the future. Make sure they’re okay with being a reference and know of your plans once you go back to school so calls from future employers don’t startle them later on.

Lastly, don’t be sad you’re leaving – be glad you were able to spend such a long time in a great position!

You’ve successfully finished another co-op and definitely learned some valuable skills! Whether your co-op helped you solidify your career path (as mine did!) or helped you decide what you don’t want to do in the future, you surely learned a lot about yourself and the industry you worked in. Soak in that knowledge and let it guide you as you decide what your next step is. And make sure you say thank you to everyone you worked with along the way (and handing out handwritten thank you cards on your last day never hurts)!

 

Rose Leopold is a third-year political science major currently on international co-op with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. Prior to this experience, Rose spent her first co-op in the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren in Washington, D.C. Follow Rose’s adventures through her blog justsittingontopoftheworld.wordpress.com and on Instagram.

Battle Your Stress

 

anxiety

I am a highly anxious person. Point blank, that is who I am, no matter how many times I’ve tried to change it. But, after years of practice, I’ve been able to research and narrow down helpful methods of tackling my anxiety and stress head on.

How many times have you been at work and find yourself blankly staring at a list of things to do with no idea where to begin? According to Forbes.com, the average business professional has between 30 and 100 projects on their plate. Unruly to-do lists and a never-ending set of distractions from phones to Facebook lead us to these heightened states of stress.

So, how do we battle this growing problem (and to-do lists)? Below are my tried and true methods to calm down, focus, and get stuff done.

Take a Deep Breath | Sounds simple, right? It’s one of the easiest things out there to level your mind and take your blood pressure down a notch. In a method borrowed from traditional yoga practices, the act of sama vritti, or “equal breathing” is a practice to calm and soothe. In her new book Do Your Om Thing, yogi Rebecca Pacheco, explains the method: “the idea is to evenly match the length of your inhale to that of your exhale.” So, sit down, feet flat on the ground, and breath in… breath out…

De-Clutter | A messy space makes a messy mind. Take 20 or 30 minutes, to tidy up your living room, workspace, bedroom, kitchen, you name it! Making space in your living and working area will free up space in your mind as well.

Eat Right | It’s so easy to get caught up in the flurry and decide to chow down on a Bolocco burrito and chips rather than a well-balanced meal. While that’s great to do every now and then (I do love the occasional burrito bowl), but it can catch up to you. Research suggests that eating sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety.

Catch some Zzz’s |  Do you frequently pull all-nighters? Are you a night owl? Well, be warned, because research shows that you are a heightened risk for chronic medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and mood disorders. While one night of little sleep can leave you grumpy, continued lack of sleep can have lasting effects. “Chronic sleep issues have been correlated with depression, anxiety, and mental distress.” Get some shut eye, turn off the electronics, relax your muscles, and drift off into a nice rest that will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle the next day.

If you need one final push for a happier, more stress-free day, just take a break and bust a move to your favorite song. (This is mine)

Here’s to an anxiety-free day! Let’s get to it!

Tatum Hartwig is a 4th year Communication Studies major with minors in Business Administration and Media & Screen Studies. Tatum brings experience and knowledge in the world of marketing and public relations from her two co-ops at Wayfair and New Balance. Her passion revolves around growing businesses via social media, brand development, and innovation. You can connect with Tatum on Twitter @tatumrosy, Instagram @tatumrose, and LinkedIn.

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

We all know the feeling: Waking up in the morning, getting to work and realizing there is so much to be done that you don’t even know where to start. I have fallen culprit to this feeling one too many times, and had you asked me a few months ago, I would have said there is no way to avoid the frustration from too many responsibilities. I consider myself to be a notorious planner, but what I have recently realized is that planning does not mean prioritizing. Prioritizing means determining what the most important thing on your to-do list is, and sticking to one task at a time.

Here are some ways to start prioritizing and organizing during your workdays.

1. Make lists your best friend.

“Divide and conquer” is a great way to make your workload seem more approachable. I recommend a good, old fashioned list, wherein number one is the most pressing task, number two the next, and so on and so forth. Once you have created a general to-do list, add details to each number. If number one reads, “Write monitoring and evaluation report,” what are the actual steps to getting this done? These steps can be listed as 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, etc. I draw boxes next to each item on my list, so that I can check them off as I work. Not only does this help keep me on track, but it lets me see what I have accomplished so far, and all of my next steps.

2. Celebrate every task well done.

It’s hard to stick to your priorities and create new ones when you feel unproductive, discouraged or overwhelmed. Establish a reward system for yourself that is balanced in both challenging you to get work done, but satisfying when you finish one of your priorities. Typical reward systems often involve both food and getting out of the office, such as, “When I finish the monitoring and evaluation report, I will go get a latte across the street.” Give yourself a reward that you will truly enjoy, and that will give your mind a break for a bit. You deserve it!

3. Try “Tab-less Tuesdays.”

This is a prioritizing tool that I just learned about last week. Every Tuesday, one of my coworkers goes completely “tab-less”- meaning that he only has one tab open on his Internet browser at any given time. This system inherently forces him to judge his tasks based on urgency, because he can literally only focus on one task at a time. If an entire Tuesday seems like too much at first, try a half-day, or two tabs- anything that will keep you mindful and focused on only one thing.

 

Daniella is a sophomore at Northeastern with a combined major in Human Services and International Affairs, and a minor in Spanish. She is currently on her first co-op working for a youth development nonprofit organization in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniella is passionate about social change, travel, and good food- and can’t wait to see what Africa has to offer her both professionally and personally. Email her at emami.d@husky.neu.edu. Look for Daniella’s posts every other Tuesday.

5 Alums, 5 Years Later: Mike Adamson

Class of 2010

It’s hard to imagine I stepped onto Northeastern’s campus almost 10 years ago to begin my freshman year. And now I’m 5 years removed from a place where I learned a lot inside and outside of the classroom, it all moves very fast. Since leaving Northeastern I’ve worked for two different companies, lived back home and in the city, been able to travel, and have kept myself relatively busy and active. I currently work as a Campus Recruiter where I’m able to travel back to college campuses and brand and recruit for a company I enjoy working for and am interested in. I’ve met a lot of students in this role and as oblivious as I was about post-collegiate life, it’s somewhat relieving to know that a lot of other students were, and still are, in the same boat. It is a big adjustment, but it’s an exciting and completely different experience that needs to be approached with an open mind.

After I graduated, I rejoined a previous co-op employer of mine. It was a great decision and because of my previous experience with them I was thrown a lot of responsibility right away. I was also living with friends that I grew up with from home in the Boston area. None of us went to college together but we stayed in touch, it was an easy fit and a great living situation. Both my work life and my social life were comfortable right after graduation, now that I think about that, it made the transition into the “real world” all the smoother. I didn’t realize it at the time, but maintaining those relationships with previous co-workers and friends got my post collegiate life kicked off in the right direction. Over the course of the last 5 years maintaining those contacts and relationships has been more challenging given the hectic work-life balancing act. But whether it is for my professional or personal life it has always proved to be worth the effort.

Work-life balance is important, but what work-life balance means to me might not mean the same to you. I work in a role where there are very busy, hectic times of the year but I enjoy the planning, travel, execution, and impact of my work. This is the same for most jobs, there will always be ebbs and flows to your workload, so be flexible with your idea of work-life balance. The times where I have been the busiest have also been the most fun. So while I may be working longer I don’t feel as if I’m making an exception. The days never feel as long or draining as they may appear because I’m engaged and enjoy the people I work with. On the opposite end of the spectrum there are times where things are slow, and I need to create work, which is great, or I’m able to catch up on responsibilities in my personal life. You won’t know what your ideal work-life balance is until you start working, and not every company and job will offer what you’re looking for. So be flexible and allow time for adjustments.

The last 5 years have also flown by because I’ve been willing to try new things. Whether it’s traveling, joining a club/team, changing up my routine, taking on a new project, or just taking myself out of my comfort zone it’s all kept my life interesting. This is probably very similar to a college experience where you are dumped into this new place with unfamiliar faces and environments you need to learn and navigate . It’s a different type of learning in post-collegiate life but being willing to say yes and continue exploring and learning has created a very fulfilling experience for me so far. I do find there are times where I’m spread a little thin or the day-to-day feels stagnant, but being cognizant of the fact that it’s my decision to change my routine, and being willing to do so, has made the last 5 years a great experience.

Mike Adamson is a Campus Recruiter with Vistaprint(Cimpress) and is a 2010 graduate of Northeastern. He majored in Psychology with a Business Admin. minor and played on the club lacrosse team. Feel free to contact Mike at Adamson.m.r@gmail.com.

How to Overcome International Co-op Culture Shock

Finding my way around the chaos of downtown Kampala.

Finding my way around the chaos of downtown Kampala.

Focus on the bright spots. In any place you go, you might initially find that you hate a lot about the place you’re in. The food is weird! There are crazy drivers! Step back and reframe. Although there might be some not-so-great things, there must be something good, however big or small, about your new environment. E.g., I really don’t like the mushy eggplant and flavorless maize mash that I often have to eat, but I can’t wait to have cabbage again! No one speaks English or understands what I’m saying, but what an opportunity for complete language immersion!

Connect with the community. It’s easy to go to a country and stay in a comfort bubble, but it’s not the best way to engage yourself in the local culture. Connecting with the community can be as simple as learning how to cook a local dish, attending a neighborhood church, or bargaining for fruit at the market. Learn how things are done locally, and try to assimilate. Remember that you are a guest in the country, so although you may look and think differently, you should be making the effort to learn the culture and adapt to your surroundings rather than having others adapt to your foreignness.

Continue hobbies from home. Something that can help with homesickness is to find an activity that you can take with you anywhere. While everything around you is changing, you are the same person wherever you go. Think portable. Cameras, sketchbooks, e-readers, journals. Personally, I like to read and run, and I can do both pretty much anywhere with just my kindle and running shoes. I even had the opportunity to participate in a triathlon while I was here, which was an incredible experience!

Embrace the unfamiliar. Of course things are different, but it just means there’s more to learn. Take the opportunity to learn a new language, make new friends, and discover cultural attitudes. You’re surrounded by a whole new world for a few months, so take your time to discover and appreciate as much as you can. Get excited about the fact that you might get lost in a crazy new city. Don’t be afraid to try strange foreign food that doesn’t sound very appealing. Stimulate your sense of adventure.

Create experiences with new friends. Travel around your new country! Go to a concert! Climb a mountain! Most things are more fun in a group – it can relieve stress, create bonding moments, and allow you to reflect upon your journey along the way. So be open to doing some crazy things when you’re with friends that you normally wouldn’t do by yourself. If you happen to be in Uganda, go white-water rafting on the Nile, climb Sipi Falls, and run the MTN marathon!

Maintain communication lines. When you’re going international, as much as you embrace your new life, you shouldn’t forget your old one. Co-ops are only six months long, and you don’t want to return realizing that you lost contact with all your friends from school and have to redo your freshman year socializing. Most places you go should have some Internet connection, whether it is luxurious WiFi or portable modem, so there isn’t much of an excuse to not contact friends and family. There are a number of smartphone apps that allow you to text or call internationally without crazy fees, including WeChat, WhatsApp, GroupMe, and Google Hangouts, just to name a few.

Record your experiences. Keep a blog, take a photo a day, or start a collection. An international co-op should be something you remember for the rest of your life, so make sure you have something to remember and show from your time abroad. For the past few weeks, I’ve been sending my father a photo a day of whatever I happen to experience over the day. By the end of the six months, I’m sure it will make an interesting slideshow: a mishmash of scenery, food, city, work, and people, that I can keep to reminisce about my amazing experience.

Mika White is a second year biochemistry major at Northeastern expecting to graduate in 2018. This semester she’s on her first co-op in Uganda interning at a rural hospital in the town of Entebbe. Mika loves to travel, read, and run. Feel free to reach out to her at white.mik@husky.neu.edu and check out her personal blog for more a more detailed account of her experiences.