• Surviving your Year Abroad

Whether you’re planning on going abroad to study, taking a year in industry or teaching English as a foreign language, you’ll be in the same boat as thousands of others and one things for certain, they will all be worrying too.

Once you’ve got your flights booked, the first and probably biggest worry for most is the issue of where to live.

Tip Number 1: Do NOT agree to anything without seeing the place first hand and certainly do NOT hand over any money beforehand - just book a hostel for the first week or two. Sure there’ll be the guy who already has his luxury apartment all sorted and you’ll all be jealous and envy him and his carefree world, but the chances are he’ll arrive and it will be a dive on the outskirts with no amenities in sight. If you have to live out of a suitcase for a week or two in your hostel, trust me it’ll be worth it. But before you travel, it’s a good idea to find some useful websites that list shared apartments and maybe make some appointments for when you arrive. If you’re not too confident with the native language, make a list of possible questions and phrases so you aren’t caught off guard when viewing.

Tip Number 2: DO take all necessary precautions to stay safe, such as having the right insurance covering everything you want to do and making sure you have the free European Health Insurance Card (it allows the holder to access state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Areas (EEA) countries and Switzerland at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.). For more advice check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, www.fco.gov.uk/travel. Here you’ll also find information on the country you’re visiting and advice if things go wrong

Tip Number 3: Regarding foreign universities, DO ask other students for help, especially when it comes to finding lecture rooms for the first time. You may be surprised at the difference between British and other universities, so make sure you attend all the surprisingly useful induction classes (which can be a great way to make friends in the first few days).

Tip Number 4: DO join a sports team. This could even be just as a social member if you’re not into playing. It is a great way to meet others in a similar position to you (if you join an ex-pat team) or can be a great way to learn the native language (particularly picking up slang).

The most important thing of all is to just go with it; it’s a great opportunity and one that you should be aiming to make the most of. I’m not going to tell you not to worry, as it’s only natural to, just don’t let your worrying stop you from embracing all the experiences that will be thrown at you in the coming year. Enjoy It!

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