A year spent studying abroad can be the time of your life and incredibly enriching. However, moving to another country can also be a very complicated and stressful time. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to make this experience the best you’ve ever had. Here are 5 top tips for your study abroad year and how best to survive it!
Top tip #1 for your study abroad year: Start Early
If you want to study abroad, start planning early. The usual rule of thumb is to allow 1.5 years between the decision to go abroad and the actual departure. That might sound like a long time, but there are many things that need to be taken into account: Many programmes and universities require you to provide references from current or former lecturers. Obtaining these might take considerably longer than you think.
If you aim for a scholarship, you should also be aware that many deadlines are early in the year. There’s little worse than finding the perfect scholarship and realising the deadline has passed.
Top tip #2: Get the right bank account
Many banks offer free cash withdrawals worldwide. It might therefore be tempting to just keep your bank account. However, there is no such thing as free banking, so the exchange rate offered might not be the best.
There are international student accounts, free of charge or for a very limited fee. Transfer money to it once when exchange rates are good and save for the rest of your stay. Online banking companies like Transferwise or N26 also offer good rates on transferring money between currencies and free withdrawals abroad. Make sure you investigate what works for your needs. By following this top tip for your study abroad year may well mean you are better placed financially to really make the most of everything else you want to do while away.
Top tip #3: Have emergency plans
No one plans to have an emergency but a little preparation before you leave can really help you survive a study abroad year when you most need it. Before you depart, find out:
– Where your embassy is.
– What the local emergency numbers are.
– Where the closest police station is.
– Where the nearest hospital is.
It might sound a bit dramatic, but you will thank yourself for having looked it up in case you really need it.
Top tip #4: Adventure!
You’re in another country! You’re here to discover a culture! Experience, discover! A whole country is suddenly on your doorstep. So go crazy. Go on a road trip. Visit that place you’ve always wanted to see. Opportunities like these don’t come back easily, so make the most of it.
Top tip #5: Embrace the language
The more proficient you are in the language of your country of choice, the better. Speaking it on a daily basis, while shopping, with your flatmates, with your friends is the best way to really learn a language, so use it! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and don’t just stick to the other foreign students because they speak your language. You’ll be amazed how fast you will learn.
To summarise, if you want to go abroad during your degree, it is never too early to start working towards it. A little planning before you go can have a big impact and can help make or break your study abroad year.