1. Choose a study abroad placement you are excited about ?
When choosing where you want to go for your university year abroad, make sure to choose a location you want to go to.
Often universities will have partner universities they run exchanges with, so you may only be allowed to go to a selection of cities, however, apply for ones that interest you, not just where all your friends are going!
Think about what each city and university can offer you, just as you did when you picked your home university.
Perhaps you like skiing and want to study for summer/winter school in Barcelona or you’d love to study in Beijing and learn more about Chinese culture.
The best places to study abroad, are the ones where you’ve never been and want to learn more about!
Placements aren’t limited to universities either, through the ERASMUS+ traineeship scheme you can gain work experience, or volunteer in Europe and receive funding towards your living expenses.
Traineeships are a great opportunity to gain experience in a field you want to work in later and to earn money.
2. Join a club to make new friends and beat loneliness ?
It can be scary to move to a strange new city alone to study abroad and it is likely you will feel lonely at some stage.
Rather than staying in watching Netflix, this is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby or join a similar sport or society that you are part of back home.
If you have always played football at home, find a team to join or if you’ve always wanted to go to salsa class, go!
Most universities have clubs to join, or you could find one on local Facebook groups or Meetup.com.
If you don’t speak the local language, sports are a great way to communicate without knowing the vocab word for word!
Every country has their own national sports, dance and interests, taking part in these activities is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn something new and make some new friends!
3. Take advantage of the travelling opportunities ?
Use the time you are studying abroad to explore nearby cities and rural areas.
If you are studying in Europe, there are often very cheap trains or coaches which can help you get around without expensive flights.
You may even be able to travel to other countries during the university breaks or on weekends.
Solo travelling is one of the personal benefits of studying abroad, and is a great way to gain more independence, whilst visiting a city with new friends can help to create bonds and memories for life.
Travelling is also a great way to boost your career prospects, here are some of the reasons travelling can aid your graduate job applications.
4. Stay realistic and be prepared ?
A lot of people will tell you “study abroad will be the best year of your life”, and whilst it may likely be, it will also be challenging at some points.
Don’t go into your study abroad program thinking it is a carefree holiday.
It may be 20 degrees warmer, but you will have to find accommodation, sort our travel documents, adjust to life in a new city, make new friends and attend lectures!
Of course, everyone’s experiences are different, but it is important to head into your year abroad having organised your documents and accommodation and preparing that at first it may be hard to adjust to your new city.
Take your year abroad one step at a time, embrace all the challenges, learn from them and reach out to other study abroad students and laugh through the chaos!
5. Capture your memories ?
Your study abroad placement sadly won’t last forever and 6 – 12 months down the line you’ll miss the city, your friends and the adventures you had whilst living there.
Make sure you take lots of photographs of the city, the culture and of the people who made your trip.
Some students like to write blogs or run Instagram accounts about their study abroad experiences, these are all great ways to remember your year abroad and share what you are doing with loved ones at home who will want to stay up to date.
6. Try and speak your study abroad language as much as possible ?
For students studying a language, or for anyone who is trying to learn the local language, stay vigilant and try to speak the local language as much as possible.
While it may be tempting and easier to speak your first language, speaking the local language with your new friends and with locals is the best opportunity to improve your speaking abilities, standing you in a much better position for your oral exams!
Learning a new language is great to increase your employability, here are some top tips for learning a new language.