Studying abroad is one of the best opportunities you can be given as a student and you should definitely grab it with both hands. Who knows when you’ll get a chance like it again?
If you’re thinking of going abroad to study for a few months, a year or however long your heart desires – there are a few things you should consider before going…
1. Be wise with your money. While it’s a wonderful idea to spend some extra money just to do the things that you would never otherwise get the chance to at home- but do it wisely. Keep your budget in mind if ever the chance of an emergency.
2. Plan side-trips in advance! While you’ll want to explore your new city, it’s likely you’ll want to plan a few trips. If you do this in advance you’ll save yourself a bundle on hotels and transport!
3. Safety first! Keep your wallet and passport in a safe place at all times.
4. Look into bank partnerships. By using partner ATMs you can avoid ATM charges – which can really add up if you’re not careful.
5. Blog about it! When you get some free time, share some of your experiences on an online blog. It’s great as a keepsake reminder, but it’s also an amazing thing to show for yourself!
6. Be as outgoing as possible. Push yourself to meet new people and do new things!
7. Don’t be afraid to try local foods! Being involved in a completely different environment or culture is a perfect chance to broaden your culinary horizons.
8. However, do be kind to your tummy. You may be familiar with certain foods but keep in mind that they may be prepared/cooked differently where you are staying. It may take your tummy by surprise!
9. Download some useful travel apps. For example, Currency which is a handy currency converter if you ever find yourself confused! A few other great ones would be PackingPro and Pizza Compass (it tells you where the nearest pizza place is – it’s essential).
10. Leave the urge to nap and be lazy at home. Take every opportunity to explore new places!
11. Learn the language (if necessary). Of course, you’re not going to understand everything everyone is saying and you certainly may not be able to always fluently converse – but even learning the key phrases will help you out – and the locals will really appreciate it!
12. Learn about the place you’re going to. Research the culture, the foods, even read or watch the news. Just so you won’t be totally in the dark and everything won’t come as a complete culture shock.
13. Learn how to read a map without having to rely on electronics all of the time.
14. A portable phone charger will save you.
15. Photocopy all of your important documents such as your passport and university acceptance letter. Email them to yourself to make sure that you always have them.
16. Don’t let a relationship hold you back. Ultimately, you are doing this for you – you can pick things up where you left off when you return.
17. Learn to say yes more things such as exciting opportunities and adventures. You never know where it might take you!
18. As Mark Twain said, “You’ll regret the things you didn’t do, much more than the things you did do.”
19. Being an international student does have its benefits. It’s easy to make friends because everyone will want to get to know you, talk to you and ask you questions! Some questions you might find to be silly, but don’t forget that they might be from a completely different culture to you. Answer thoughtfully! Don’t make anyone feel stupid.
20. It’s great to hang out and make friendships with people who are also from your home country. You’ll have an instant connection and they will help to curb homesickness.
21. At the same time, don’t be afraid to make friends with those who aren’t from your home country. Make friends from all around the world!
22. Build as many connections as you can. You could potentially make friends for life who you can come back and visit!
23. Take plenty of photographs! Maybe an obvious one, but you’ll want these to look back on and maybe even make a scrapbook when you return home to show everyone.
24. Take time for yourself – don’t rely on others for your personal experience to be a good one. If you want to go somewhere, don’t depend on someone else to come with you. If you want to do something – go out and do it!
25. Invest in a cheap, temporary phone that you can use abroad.
26. Remember to turn off data roaming if you’re outside the EU to avoid any nasty, surprise charges when you get home.
27. Learn the money system as soon as possible. Don’t get yourself confused!
28. As much as it’s good to keep in contact with your loved ones at home – don’t get too wrapped in what’s going on back there. Focus on where you are.
29. Be spontaneous!
30. Work hard, play hard. Enjoy and discover your surroundings, but remember to work hard. You don’t want to waste the learning experience. If you do it right, you CAN do both.
31. Take a social media detox. You’ve been given an incredible opportunity – you don’t want to spend the entire time looking at your phone screen. Disconnecting is good. Facebook will still be there when you return.
32. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. That rollercoaster or that skydive might seem terrifying, but it might actually be the best thing you do.
33. Get a job while you’re there. It’ll allow you to make some new contacts, new friends and gain new experience! It’ll also look great on your CV.
34. Get a portable purifier for water. You don’t want to be drinking anything nasty in your water.
35. Keep a close eye on your belongings in pockets. Don’t have a smartphone or wallet sticking out of your back pocket!
36. My Baggage is the best way to get your luggage to your new location.
37. For those travelling to America – frat parties are just like the movies.
38. Again for America – you only think people are over the top about Christmas here in the UK. What with shops bringing in decorations in September and people putting their trees up as soon as Halloween is done. You know nothing! Look out for Candy Cane Lanes in the suburban housing areas. Pretty Christmas lights everywhere!
39. Care packages from home are the best kind of heart-warming surprise.
40. You’ll be super prepared for final year. Studies have proven that students who study abroad for a year have an improved work ethic and end up with better grades in their final year!
41. Remember that age doesn’t matter. Even if you’re a mature student, if given the opportunity and you want it – take it.
42. Surprisingly, do not constantly Skype or phone home when you’re feeling homesick. More often than not, it can result in you feeling so much worse. Instead, surround yourself with your new friends and take part in activities! Do anything to keep your mind off it and you won’t find yourself feeling alone.
43. Keep in mind that you’re lucky to do this.
44. It’s very likely that it won’t be perfect and just like you imagined – but it’s guaranteed to be perfectly imperfect.