Studying Abroad: Top Tips & Advice
Having just completed my study year abroad (the best year ever), I would honestly recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity! If you are about to start your studies abroad, I have created a list of tips and advice to help you along the way...
- Passport & Visa - Ensure you have your passport and visa (if necessary) ready in advance and make photocopies of these before your departure.
- Research the culture of your host country – this way you’ll know all of their social norms and you will be prepared on what to expect. But be careful to avoid creating stereotypes beforehand, this may put you off creating friendships with particular people. Just research what to expect and don't judge anyone before you get to know them!
- Pack smart - When packing your suitcase, remember to pack for the weather of your host country! Check what the weather will be like for the duration of your studies and try to pack to suit the forecast. Remember it is not always correct so take a range of items if you can. Also, don’t take valuable belongings that can’t be replaced if lost or stolen.
- Get a MONZO or Revolut bank account – these are solely online bank accounts, accessed through an app on your phone. You can use these accounts in over 150 currencies worldwide, they track your spending and help you budget every month. An essential travel necessity!
- Get travel insurance!!! – Whilst I studied abroad, I had my phone and purse stolen on two separate occasions. Whilst I’m sure it won’t happen to you here in UWE, it’s better to be safe than sorry! Just always be cautious of your belongings & be smart!
- Technology – Utilising technology will really help you make the most of your time abroad. Join UWE's study abroad page and your other university's study abroad page, so you will have a wide network of people in the same boat as you! Buy a portable charger (my best friend), this way you can ensure you will have access to your phone/internet whenever necessary and it is perfect for long flights when you are watching films.
- Hang out and explore with people who aren't from your home country – make friends from all over the world! This really enhances your experience, make the most of the opportunity being surrounded by people who aren’t from your home country and really get to know the different cultures you are surrounded by. If you are also there with people from home, try to not stick with them all of the time. I know they might be your comfort blanket, but it is really important to push yourself and really make the most of being abroad. (See number 9).
- Make friends with people from your host country – this is a great way to learn & practise the language properly. They will also know all of the best places to visit as they know the city the best!
- Go to events put on for students studying abroad – this is a great way to meet everyone who is studying abroad with you at your new university, and a great way to make friends from various countries.
- Food – when you first move to your host country, you probably are not going to like the food that much. Make sure you try everything, lots of local dishes and foods that are typical of the country. When I first moved abroad, it took me a while to get used to the different dishes and even the different ingredients available to buy in the shops, as most of the time your favourite brands and foods are not available. However, by the end of my year I loved the food and now I am a lot less fussy (lol).
- Keep a diary –one thing I wish I did was keep a dairy, it's a great way to remember all of the little details that you will probably forget in a year or so. Reading your diary entries back will be like reliving your time abroad, something everyone wishes they can do.
- Take lots of pictures –this is the best way to capture all the best moments and memories whilst you're abroad. Download 'free prints' app on your phone where you can get 40 pictures developed and you only have to pay for delivery!
- Travel - if you get the opportunity to travel, do so! You can travel at weekends and whenever your host country has a national holiday! Ryanair and Easyjet have cheap flights to most places, just make sure you check your baggage allowance! Companies such as; Megabus, National Express, Ouigo, Trainline, Skyscanner and Flixbus all sell cheap tickets to most places in Europe, just make sure you book your tickets as far in advance as possible.
- Digital detox – as I mentioned before, my phone was stolen whilst I was abroad. This was actually a blessing in disguise as I stopped being so distracted by my phone and became properly immersed in my travels. I was forced to get by without Google Maps, social media etc., and actually felt very liberated after the initial shock of losing my baby. So, use the phone less and concentrate more on your new surroundings.
- Last but not least: make the most of your time abroad!! – This experience goes so quickly. You always think you have time to visit somewhere or to go do something later and then all of a sudden you are on your flight going home. So take my advice, make the most of every moment you have abroad and never wait till later to do something! If you have the chance to do something, do it there and then.
Good luck with your time abroad!
"Home may still be the same, but I certainly am not."
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