I’ve been living in Leicester all week in my new house, trying to find a part-time job so I can fund my final year at Uni and also my Christmas travel plans. Fortunately my job hunt turned out successful and after a couple of interviews I’ve landed myself a cheeky bar job to keep me busy. Whilst I’m thrilled about the job, this week has also been somewhat sad because most of my friends are graduating. I’ve seen various posts all over social media of people I started Uni with graduating, this is because I’m on the Master’s programme which is 4 years as opposed to the 3 year BSc course. I’m sure this will open up some opportunities for me to make some new friends next year though and if anything it’s made me more motivated to graduate so I’m suppose there’s a silver lining.
As I mentioned in my introductory blog, I spent my 3rd year studying abroad at Colorado State University. It was the most amazing year and it seems like just 5 minutes ago that I was leaving for the USA, in fact it was exactly a month from today that I left. With this is mind I thought I’d put together a list of things that I’d advise someone else studying abroad to do before they went.
So here’s my list of 5 things you should do before you go.
- Arrange to see your family and friends.
I know we’re in an age where technology is everywhere, we all have internet so we can contact home on imessage, whatsapp, facebook and the likes. However if you’re experience abroad is anything like mine you’ll find that making time to actually do this is pretty difficult. You’ll want to spend most weekends exploring and depending on your study abroad location, and you could be looking at a pretty hefty time difference. This is especially hard when finishing lectures coincides with your UK friends going to bed. With all this in mind you’ll probably wish you made the time to hang out with your friends a bit more before you went away so go and do this now.
- Try to make a rough budget.
I happen to have an uncanny ability to run out of money in very short spaces of time so this one would have been very handy for me. I know it seems pretty obvious but you will spend a lot of money when you’re abroad so try and get together a rough idea of what your costs will be so you can start to plan. What states/ countries do you want to see? Are you planning to ski/snowboard? How will you transfer your money into foreign currency? These are the sort of questions you want to be thinking about. With this said, the point was to make a rough budget and this is definitely what I am suggesting. Don’t try and work it out to the pound/dollar/euro, unexpected things will come up and you simply won’t stick to it. Some of my favourite things about the year were spontaneous trips that were planned last minute with people I met out there, go and have fun and remember other people are working on a budget too so you’re probably going to be doing it as cheap as possible anyway.
- Eat the food you’ll miss.
I’m a massive foodie. In fact the things I missed most about the UK were crunchie bars and Yorkshire tea. If you’re going to America for a year, you won’t be able to get our brands of tea or chocolate; if you’re in Colorado you’ll also be hard pressed to find a good curry. If you have to guilt trip your mum into cooking you a good pie because she won’t see you for a year, just do it, you’ll regret it in the long run if you don’t.
- Get your documents together.
Ok, sorry I had to do a boring one but this is an important point. When you arrive at customs you’ll be greeted by a big scary person that looks like they want you to leave their country. Don’t be that person holding up a queue whilst you frantically flap around trying to find your visa documents; put everything in a folder in an easily accessible place. Also if you have a shuttle waiting for you on the other end try and find out where it’s going to pick you up and if you need your confirmation printed (I’m speaking from past experience when I say it’s not fun to have to search for a shuttle at 1am pulling 2 suitcases after a 10 hour flight). It’s also handy to have a photocopy of your passport, insurance details, visa and any other important info; it might just save you a lot of time, worry and phone calls home somewhere down the line.
- Get excited.
My final point and probably the most important. Get excited. You’re about to have the best year of your life. Perhaps you don’t know anyone there, perhaps you will get a bit homesick for a while but just remember you’re going to meet other people from all over the world in the same boat as you. Go with an open mind, make friends and have fun; it will feel like no time at all since you’re on your return flight to England wishing you could do it all over again.
As ever, if you have any questions please ask away in the comments section and I’ll get back to you ASAP.