If you have chosen to go on a semester or a year abroad next academic year, then you probably know where you are going. However, you might be wondering: what now? You’ve looked at YouTube videos to get some tips, but here are 10 more tips. And these are from a student who has actually spent a year abroad and is now ready to share her wisdom. This is how you prepare for a year abroad.
It might seem simplistic but trust me. Knowing where you will be living will make the moving to a new country experience a lot less stressful. Think about the different types of accommodation. Think also of the cultural differences. Some European universities are ver unlikely to have on campus accommodation, especially if the university is in the center of a capital.
Are you going for a shared flat? Private accommodation? Once that is sorted it can take a real weight off your shoulders.
One thing to consider: how far is your accommodation from where you will be going to lectures? If you have an hour in public transports to get back and forth it might not be worth it. Consider the fact that you will not have a car to get groceries. Find somewhere which has grocery shops easily accessible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to potential landlords. Moving once you have arrived can be a very tricky thing.
2. Money tips
It might sound a bit silly but having a budget can be very helpful! You are unlikely to study in a country which will be ran in your home currency. Therefore, having a budget to have an idea of how much you are going to spend during the month can be a very helpful guideline.
Save up a bit before you go! You are very likely to want to travel on your time abroad! And you should. It’s something to experience. But these trips can be costly so if you want to have fun save up!
Find out what the currency of the country you are going to and what you will do about it. Open a local bank account? Online banking like Revolut? Research all your options.
3. SIM Cards
Google Maps was my biggest saviour when I first started studying abroad. And to use Google Maps you need 4G. Researching SIM cards before you go can save you a lot of time! Once you get there order the one you found the best! Getting tips from people who have been there a while can give you ideas you might not have thought of.
You might wonder: why can’t I use my normal SIM card from home? Well there are a few reasons. For one, it might be cheaper to use a local SIM card, you might get more 4G and pay less then you would back home! And secondly, if you go to Europe from the UK, you will have to pay to call European numbers.
But why can’t I use WhatsApp? Because for WhatsApp you need 4G. If you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with just enough cell service to make a phone but not enough to launch WhatApp then you will be in trouble. Trust me on that one.
Once again, a perk of being from the UK is that we don’t have the same plugs as most European countries. Adaptors will be your best friend. My tip: invest in a lot! You might loose some and also, we have a lot of electronics. You’ll need more than you think.
5. Pack according to where you are going
Once again, something that sounds so simple but is easily overlooked. Of course if you are going to spend spring semester in Florida or Australia you might not need a warm winter coat or boots but if you are going to Europe for the year you will.
Of course you will be going home every now and again but you don’t want to have to worry about bringing winter clothes with you. It might be heavy but you will need them sooner than you think. Don’t pack only shorts and t shirts because the weather will be nice when you arrive. Pack things for the upcoming winter as well.
If you are studying abroad in Europe then look up ESN. They are the Erasmus Student Network and are usually very good. When I was abroad they had WhatsApp group chats where you could ask for advice, they updated us on the local COVID-19 rules and organised events.
Going to these events is a really fun way of meeting new people. They have events local to you but also have trips, day trips. Checking them out can be very helpful.
Getting an ESN card can also be really helpful! They give you discounts on Ryanair flights, Flixbus and more. It has come in very handy.
You might think Facebook is the one social media your parents have but trust me in this case it will be very helpful. As soon as I found out where I was going I found Facebook groups that I joined. There’s a wealth of information to be found. From events, to accommodation ads, definitely make use of it.
As silly as it might sound, if you go to a country where you don’t the language, knowing a few basic phrases can really help you get started. Free language learning apps like Duolingo are a great starting point. Knowing how to ask for a coffee, asking for directions can make the locals want to help you.
Its not the end of the world if you sound stupid, the effort will show and locals will really appreciate it.
9. Say yes
It might be cliché but there are days when you just want to sleep in and have a chill day but if someone asks you to do something with them, don’t blow them off. Say yes. Who knows when you will have those opportunities again! Studying abroad is a once in a lifetime experience!
10. Go with an open mind
Not everything will be the same as it is back at your home university! Grocery stores won’t necessarily carry the foods you are used to, university won’t work the same, cultures will be different. But you can’t let that stop you from having an amazing time abroad.
You will make friends that will last you a lifetime, and incredible memories! But if one thing doesn’t go your way its not the end of the world! Go with it and make the most of your time abroad!