The idea of moving to an entirely different country, alone, for half or an entire year can be extremely daunting. Trust me, I know.
But rest assured, there are things you can do while you’re still at home to make this transition a little easier. These are the top three things I wish I did in the preparation for my year abroad.
To be prepared is half the victory. Miguel De Cervantes
#1 Setting up a bank account in your host country
When studying or working abroad in Europe, you’re likely to be eligible for the Erasmus grant to assist you with the living costs for your time away. In order to get the most of this grant, you’ll want to set up a bank account in your host country to ensure you’ll receive the full amount of euros you’re entitled to without having to incur transaction costs or terrible exchange rates.
I would recommend researching banks and the types of accounts they offer to see which would be best for you. I found that some of the banks allow you to apply for an account online, but many would require you to open the account in person, bringing along the required documents (usually listed on the website) with you so make sure to bring photocopies of important documents (e.g. acceptance letter to university/work contract, Passport copy etc). This will majorly speed up the opening of your account, and in turn allow you to submit your Erasmus payment form nice and early so you can receive your funds ASAP! You’ll want them, I promise.
#2 Finding somewhere to live
Now, I understand that there is a ton of contradicting opinions out there on this; some say wait until you’re in your host country to find somewhere to live just to ensure you don’t fall for a scam online, while others push the rhetoric of staying organised and securing your home well before you get there. From personal experience, I am an advocate of the latter; secure where you want to live before you get there!
This is what I did and urge you to follow suit as I have seen first-hand the struggle that others that waited until they arrived to find accommodation faced. There are a number of resources available on the internet for finding suitable accommodation for your stay including SpotAHome and Uniplaces to name a few. I used uniplaces and had a pleasant experience finding the home I currently live in thus recommend this website as your starting point. Not only does securing your home nice and early give you the advantage of having somewhere to stay as soon as you land, it’s also one less thing to worry about!
#3 Making the most of Duolingo
Need I say more?
One of the most daunting things about moving abroad to a country where the primary language is not one you’re familiar with is the idea of communication. How are you going to live and get by without knowing a thing in the language of the place you’ll be calling home?
It is possible, since, I myself came to Spain with no knowledge of Spanish beyond “hola” and “Buenos dias” but I can tell you, it was no walk in the park. To make your move a lot more enjoyable, I highly recommend trying to learn as much of the new language as possible, even if it’s just the basics. This can easily be done via the app Duolingo which even sends you reminders to take your lessons so if you’re lazy or forgetful (like me), you have no excuse. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it!