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How To Not Netflix Your Semester Away

Posted by Cherish Germaine on 4/1/16 10:00 AM


You go abroad to have the time of your life serving abroad and suddenly you realize that you've started to spend all your spare time sitting in your room watching Netflix. While watching Netflix can be a great way to spend some of your free time, don't make the mistake of Netflix-ing your entire semester away. We've got some better options for you to consider.

One of the greatest things about volunteering abroad with ILP in our various countries is that you have a huge amount of free time. I mean it. ILP volunteers serve for about 15-20 hours a week (M-F, with Saturday and Sunday always off). That means you teach for maybe 4 hours every day, or a couple days a week you teach for 5 hours and you have another day off during the week, all depending on the school you go to. So, with all this free time, what do you do? 

You can catch up on some shows and sleep, which is fine...but at the end of your semester, you're not going to want to look back on your time spent abroad full of regrets thinking "Man, I should have gone out more. I wish I didn't spend so much time in my room." You didn't fly all the way to China to do exactly what you would have done at home right?

Here are some ideas to help get your wheels turning. 

  • Play Games 
  • Read a Book
  • Journal Write
  • Mission Prep
  • Work Out 
  • Explore 

Play Games

One great way to spend your free time is by building friendships with the other members of your group. Have fun getting to know each other better by letting loose while playing games. Some of my favorite memories with my ILP group are the times we spent laughing and hanging out. Card games, board games, get-to-know you games, etc. In my opinion, time spent playing games with friends is time well spent.  

Looking for other tips on how to make friends? Click here. 


Read A Book (or two or three)

If you're like me, you love to read. Grab your book and head to the local park, or read while sitting on a bench in the center of Kiev, or head to the beach in Thailand and read there. In every town, there is always somewhere you can go besides your bedroom to soak in some of the culture and slip into another world while reading. Reading is relaxing, and honestly in our fast-paced world of today, sometimes a luxury you can't afford. So take advantage of your free time with volunteering with ILP by reading those books you've been meaning to for awhile!

Want some book suggestions? Click here. 


Journal Write

My biggest regret from my first ILP semester abroad was that I didn't keep a journal. Yes, I took a lot of pictures and at least have those to go back and look at, but I wish I would have kept a journal so I could remember every single little detail from my day to day life when I was living in Ukraine. Thankfully, I learned my lesson and kept a journal my next 2 ILP semesters abroad in China. Learn from my mistake and keep a journal! I love journal writing and I love having something I can go back and read about all the adventures I had while living abroad. Even if you only write a few sentences about your day, do it and keep it up, you won't regret it! 

Need some journal prompt ideas? Click here


Prepare to Serve a Mission

Although ILP is not affiliated with the LDS church, a large majority of our volunteers are LDS. If you're thinking about maybe serving a mission, then this is the perfect time to spend some of that free time preparing. Read your scriptures, pray, watch general conference talks or fill out your mission papers. Take this time to grow spiritually. 

Click here to see why volunteering is the best mission prep.  


Work Out

Working out is an awesome way to fill your time. If running is your thing, maybe even run a marathon while you're living abroad. One ILP favorite is the Great Wall of China Marathon! Hit the web and search for any races that might be happening in your area and gain some serious bragging rights. Spend your free time preparing for it. If you're not that big into running then take a walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the scenery. 



This one is probably pretty obvious because as an ILP volunteer you will be living in a foreign country, so take advantage! Take the free time to go hang out at the local market, downtown or even get off at a random metro stop and explore the new area of your city. At the beginning of your semester, I highly recommend looking up and writing down all the places you want to go to. Set the goal to see all of them at some point during your semester! You can make a check list on a poster board and hang it up on the wall for everyone to see and then then cross each thing off as you go. One of my coolest parts about living abroad is that even by just taking a short walk to the local grocery store could lead to an improptu adventure.


While living abroad, spend your free time wisely, and most importantly have fun! Don't get sucked into watching Netflix allllll day, every day! Want more tips about living abroad? Click here.

Interested in serving abroad with International Language Programs? Click the button below to learn more.  

International Language Programs

Topics: Semester Preparation, Life Abroad

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Over the years of assisting more than 6,000 volunteers in their desire to travel and make a difference in the lives of others, ILP has seen what works and what doesn't.

We've gathered our tips here for making your semester abroad a successful one.


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