“Hi Fiona, I’m currently two weeks into my international internship in New York, and I’m having an amazing time. On the weekends a group of us always try to get out and about and explore the city. My only slight issue is that I feel like I’m wasting my weekday evenings. I come home from work and I’m not sure what to do with myself. Do you have any tips on what to do after work to make the most of my time abroad?” – Rhiannon
Hi Rhiannon, what to do after work is a question that I ask myself almost every single day at my internship. I fully understand that, when you’re a little bit exhausted, the temptation to go home and do absolutely nothing can be overwhelming. But the best advice I can give you is to push through this feeling! Time goes unbelievably quickly when you’re abroad, and the nights that you’ll look back on fondly won’t be the ones where you sat in bed and watched fifteen episodes of America’s Next Top Model. So, here are my top tips for maximizing your weekday evenings.
1. Go out with friends
One of the best ways to make the most of your weekday evenings is to go out with friends. The weekends go so quickly and you only have to blink and you’re six weeks into your international internship. As time goes so quickly when you’re in an exciting, new environment, weekday evenings are the perfect time to try out all of the things that you want to see and do around the city. Don’t just wait for the weekend! Why not get a group of people together and go see a film? Or try out that restaurant that everyone has been talking about? Maybe even do a little bit of late night shopping. Socializing and strengthening relationships with people that you meet abroad is not only fun, but it also helps you to build a fantastic circle of contacts for later life.
Although going out every evening can be fun and exciting, don’t burn yourself out! Working a full week at a professional internship can be really tiring and you need to make sure that you don’t exhaust yourself. The last thing you want is to be so tired at work that you end up snoring at your desk. Every now and again a night of staying in and relaxing is exactly what you need. Watching a film, catching up on your favourite tv show or reading a good book can help you relax and unwind. Although I wouldn’t advise staying in every night, if you’re feeling tired, take a night off and get a good night’s sleep!
3. Do something productive
Even if you decide not to go out and explore, evenings in the week can still be very productive. They are a great time to do all of those things that you’ve been putting off. Why not use this time to update your resume? Add your experience and everything that you have learned from your international internship. If you’re planning on going into a creative field, then why not take this time to update your artistic portfolio? If you’re thinking of going into marketing or journalism, why not start a blog? You could write about food, travel or anything you want. You never know how it may help you in the future. Weekday evenings are a great time for general life administration. Think about what you want to do in the long term and take small steps towards it.
4. Talk to people back home
A great way to make the most of your weekday evenings is to check in with people back home. Especially if you’re feeling homesick, it’s great to catch up with your family and friends. They’ll be delighted to hear from you and will want to find out about your amazing adventures abroad. So why not schedule a Skype or FaceTime one weekday evening and catch up on all the gossip from home?
5. Join a club
Most of us, when we get home, are glued to a screen. Whether that’s watching Netflix on a laptop, watching whatever’s on the TV or mindlessly scrolling through social media on a phone. Some of the best advice I can give you is to get out and about and away from all these screens. A great way to do this is to join a club. If you were part of a club or sports team back home, then why not find the equivalent in your new city? This will get you out and about, being active and feeling productive. If you weren’t part of a club at home, then now is the perfect time to start. Why not find yourself a great new hobby? You’ll meet loads of new people and have something fun to look forward to on a weeknight.
6. Plan a trip
One of my favorite things to do on weekday evenings is to plan. Whether it’s a trip for the weekend or a few weeks of traveling, it’s all fun. A great way to do this can be to get a notebook and write yourself a bucket list of places to visit, nearby and further afield. You can then organize weekend trips with friends that will tick a few things off the list. Make sure to organize your transport first and foremost – you need to make sure that you have a way to get back. Then, find yourself a great hostel or Airbnb to stay in with your friends. Decide where you what you want to see/eat/experience. Finally, make sure to take lots of pictures!
7. Organize your life
Organizing my life is something that I am very good at putting off. When I say life organization I mean all of those annoying things that you need to do but always ignore. I’m talking about washing your clothes, tidying your room, grocery shopping, etc. These things, although mundane, are necessary. You don’t want to turn up to work in your pyjamas because everything you own is either in the wash or buried somewhere in your room.
A great way to tackle these things is to give yourself one little thing to do a day. So, for example, one day you can do a load of laundry, one day you can tidy your room and another day you can do a big grocery shop. This means that you have time in your evening to do your boring task and also something fun. The boring is therefore diluted by the fun and the balance of life is restored once again.
An internship abroad is an incredible experience. The best advice I can possibly give you is to make the most of it! Take any opportunities that come your way and experience as much as you can. Remember this when planning what to do after work. Don’t waste your weeknights, these are a great time to get a feel for life in your new city. So get out there and have an amazing time!