So, you’re a student who unlike most that are going on to work placements have taken it upon yourself to decide to study abroad. Whether it’s for one or two semesters, it’s going to be one of the most nerve-racking but exciting times of your life and one of the most exciting opportunities you could bestow upon yourself. Now it’s time to prepare yourself for this adventurous endeavour but where to start? Well here is a list of 5 tips to consider before going on to study abroad.
Yes I know you’re probably thinking there’s no need to plan ahead and you can figure everything out as you go but no, if you don’t plan ahead you will probably get caught up in a bunch of parties and studying so hard that you don’t give yourself any chance to consider the cheapest viable public transport options or to actually explore the countries surrounding you and more importantly the country you are studying in. While studying abroad I’ve been using an app a lot called City Mapper. This app simply lets you type in where you need to go to and gives multiple options of transport available to get there depending on the price you are looking to pay and how quickly you want to get there, which I’ve found myself using almost every day while travelling around France. I also used TripAdvisor a lot to figure and plan out places I wanted to see and research countries I could visit cheaply from my host country. Remember, studying abroad is a great opportunity to travel and explore places you may never have considered visiting, so why not take a camera to capture some amazing pictures to show everyone back at home.
SAVE SAVE SAVE!!
When you get to your host country the currency they use will probably feel like monopoly money, where you can spend as much as you wish with no repercussions but no… it is in fact real money and you need to use it wisely. So please consider saving as much as you can before going off to your host country, don’t go buying the latest trainers to impress your new friends, instead save this money, so you can put it towards travelling, going out, trying all the traditional foods and truly doing as much as you can while out there.
LEARN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
Although this is not a requirement as you will most likely be taught in English and therefore have English speaking friends, I’d highly advise that you try to learn the mother tongue of the country. I was one of the students who thought it would not be a problem, but since being in France, I’ve learnt it’s extremely difficult trying to communicate, which has now motivated me to start learning the language. Even though it might take you a while to adjust to the language, there’s no better way to learn than living in the country. Being bilingual can even be an addition to your CV if you become advanced enough, and trust me when I say that locals would much rather appreciate you attempting to speak their language rather than you just speaking in English and assuming they’ll make the effort with you. Duolingo is a great app to use on your mobile phone in order to learn new languages while playing games and Google Translate is also a useful tool to help you while trying to communicate on the go.
BE YOURSELF & BE INDEPENDENT
While it is tempting to go to the same place as a friend, if you want the most authentic experience possible, go on your own! This may seem very scary at first, but in order to make the most of the networking opportunities out there go solo (trust me). Remember all of the students over there are going to be in the exact same situation as you and are going to be eager to meet new people from new places to enjoy this new experience with. As long as you be yourself, be friendly and stay open to new experiences, you will make some truly life-lasting friends from places you probably never even imagined, opening up even more opportunities for the future in terms of travelling and exploration. While going with a friend may seem like the safer option, most of the time this can just make people much too comfortable and therefore not as willing to make new friends, so force yourself into a situation where you must. This will also allow you to improve your networking and social skills and also can act as a fresh start for you to truly be yourself.
REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE THERE
It can be very easy to get carried away with all the new activities and friends you have made while in your new home, remember the true reason why you are there, and no, not to party but in fact to study. So enjoy your time there but also make sure to keep up with your university work and deadlines, take this opportunity to truly appreciate the different teaching styles, working in groups with people from a selection of cultures and also take advantage of the information given to gain as much knowledge and experience while you are out there. This will all accumulate to a competitive advantage for your future, having experienced a completely new approach to teaching that most students back in your home country are used to.