Anyone who has ever studied abroad will tell you that it was one of the best experiences of their life. What’s not to like about seeing a new part of the world, making new friends, exploring independently, and making memories that will last a lifetime? But before you head off, there’s a few things you need to do. To make it easy for you, here’s five simple tips to make your year abroad go smoothly.
Choose the right program. Do you want to study abroad for a full year or just six months? Most universities tend to offer half-year courses for exchange students, but there are longer courses on offer. Read as many reviews as you can, speak to former students who took the course, and ask for advice from your university’s study abroad adviser. Honestly, you will have an amazing time regardless of the program, but it’s still important to choose the right program for you!
Pack light. Some students who study abroad choose to ship a few boxes over to their new destination, but some take the bare minimum and buy what they need when they arrive. From my experience, I’d suggest travelling as lightly as possible, especially if you’re only there for six months. You can buy all your essentials in your destination country, and it’s a great way of getting out and exploring your new town or city at the same time.
Want to work while you’re abroad? This is a great idea to earn some extra money in your spare time and blend in with the locals. Of course, you’ll want to travel around your destination country, so you’ll definitely need the money! That said, you’ll need to make sure you’re up to speed with employment legislation and find out if you’re eligible to work or if there’s any documentation you’ll need to arrange before you go.
Work out where you’ll live. Some universities offer accommodation for exchange students, but some will leave that up to you to sort out. Don’t assume that your accommodation will be sorted and ready for you when you step off the plane – find out where you’ll be staying and if you need to make any arrangements yourself.
Write up a budget. Never done this before? Well, now is the time to learn! If you’re studying in Eastern Europe or South East Asia, you’ll find the cost of living to be significantly cheaper than what you’re used to – but you may end up spending more if you head to Australia, the UK, or one of the Nordic countries. It’s important that you have a general idea of how much you’ll be spending on a monthly basis and you’ll probably find in your first couple of months, you’ll end up spending way more than you originally anticipated!
See your doctor. No one likes going to the doctor, but this is really important, especially if you’re travelling to somewhere off the beaten track. You might need certain immunizations or medication, and if you’re on repeat medication, order enough to cover you for the length of your study period. You’ll also need your doctor to write up a letter to accompany your medication, as customs often ask to see this when you arrive.
It might seem like there’s a lot to do before you head off on your study abroad adventure (see here for a few more tips), but once you’ve got it all out of the way, you can do all the fun things – like planning your weekend getaways, making travel plans, and reading city guidebooks! There will no doubt be things you can’t plan for and a few bumps along the way, but hopefully these tips will help you hit the ground running.
Guest Posting from Victoria Moretti, a professional writer from the UK who contributes to Abroad101 from time to time. Victoria loves to write about businesses and macro economic affairs that move the needle. Her other loves include travel, long walks and flat whites.