Embarking on a year abroad is super exciting, but it can also be very daunting. There are, however, a few things that you can do to help prepare yourself and to alleviate (at least some of) the anxieties you may feel in advance of your trip.
Based on what I learnt from my own experience as a student in France, here are my five top tips to help you prep and get the most out of your first few weeks abroad!
- Join Facebook groups
Research the place you are going to and whether there are any Facebook groups you can join. Even if you are not going to be studying, joining the local Erasmus group, for example, is a fantastic way to meet other young people in the same boat. This will make you feel a lot more settled, particularly if you will be teaching in a school where it might be slightly more difficult to make friends your own age. If you’re doing a year abroad to learn a language, don’t beat yourself up if you only make English friends at the beginning – put your happiness first!
- Find somewhere to live before setting off
A few of my friends decided to find accommodation upon arrival, which, they have since told me, they would not recommend. In some cases, you will have to wait. However, I would advise you to do as much research as possible before you go and have accommodation, or at least potential accommodation, sorted as this will make the transition much smoother. Think about choosing somewhere close to work/university and think about transport links to town/local shops. Having a base will make you feel settled more quickly.
- Read the “living in” guide
The FCO has “living in” guides that provide detailed, country-specific advice for UK nationals living abroad and they’re really useful. There’s also specific advice for those in affected countries as the UK leaves the EU, so I would highly recommend looking at these before you leave. I learnt some really valuable information through reading these guides, for example, that I needed a specific EHIC card, so make sure you check them out, available here via this link.
- Get a currency card
You’ll probably want to set up a bank account once you’re settled, but in the meantime it’s a good idea to get a currency card like Monzo, Revolut, Travelex, or one of the many others available. These cards allow you to track your spending and you can use them in shops or at ATMs abroad, free of charge. This will take away the worry of knowing how much money to convert and take with you, as well as taking off the pressure of opening a bank account straight away.
- Start a blog!
This one might not make your move in go more smoothly, but it will help you to let out some of the mixed emotions you’re bound to have. It’s also a great way of remembering the experience, and a nice way to keep all your friends and family up to date with what you’re up to.
Have a fantastic time!