Your year abroad can be a daunting task to undertake, with visas, money exchange and packing, all crammed into one ball of stress, it can be easy to forget the things you can do to make the very best of your time away. It is a time for you to experience new things and make new opportunities for yourself, but it can be hard to know how to do that and the ways that will make it the best possible experience. Here are our top tips for making the most of your time studying abroad.
- Make Lists
There will be a lot of things that you want to do or even have to do and chances are you won’t be able to remember it all. Before you leave, make a list of everything you will need to buy when you arrive. Whether it be bedding, crockery or a winter coat, write it down to make your life easier and free up time. Once you’ve got settled in create lists of all the things you want to do, separate them into local and bigger trips so you can see how you’ll need to divide your time and money. And finally, make a list of your work. You are, after all, studying abroad and it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind. Keep yourself in check so you’re able to work hard and play hard.
Are there any places you know you want to go? If you’re studying in England and want to go to France – pre-plan it. Same goes if you’re studying in America, take the opportunity to visit other states, just pre-plan it! The earlier you book travel for the places you wish to see, the cheaper it will be, and, as a result, the more trips you can go on. Its good to remember that this is your year abroad and a time to do the things you want to do. It is more than likely that once you’ve put some plans into place you’ll find your friends will shortly be hopping on the bandwagon and asking to come with you. Pre-planning trips you wish to go on will mean you maintain independence, keep a tight budget and have the freedom to invite all your new friends along.
- Ask, Ask, Ask
It can often feel like you don’t know anything whilst you’re studying abroad. You get lost, you don’t know the grading system, and even the coins don’t make sense. When you’re stuck, ask. It’s good to get into the habit of being vocal; asking when you need help and approaching people in a new setting. If you’ll be in an area with a new language, learn ‘excuse me’ and a few simple directions to get you on your way, but most importantly don’t be afraid to ask. Ask if you need help, ask for recommendations on the best place to eat and the best parks in town, reach out to the people around you and your time will improve drastically.
- Be International
Part of the perks of being abroad is making friends from all over the world. The tendency may be to reach out to the people from the same country as you; the shared experience as well as a mutual love for your home nation’s food will make it easier to bond but will ultimately lead you to live the same life you lead at home. Be bold and make friends from every walk of life, strive to learn something new from the people you surround yourself with every day. The more friends from different countries you make, the more places you have to stay for future travels!
- Document Everything!
It’s hard to know how quickly your study abroad experience can go until you’re sat at home starting every sentence with “on my year abroad” and wishing you were back. Trust us, it goes quickly and you won’t want to forget about it. Document as much as you can; take pictures, keep a journal, make a scrapbook. Anything that will help remind yourself it wasn’t all a dream. You learn a lot on your year abroad and so much can change, it’s nice to be able to look back and understand how it all happened and see the exact moments you became this new person.
Milly Godfrey was the Incoming Study Abroad Ambassador (2016/17). She did her year abroad at Temple University, Philadelphia. She has recently graduated from UEA after studying American Literature with Creative Writing.
Image by Luke via Flickr.