Often described as a ‘year long holiday’, studying abroad is by far one of the best opportunities you’ll ever have. It’s also one of the most stressful. Planning to study abroad for a year can feel extremely daunting, however, it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips on how to make your study abroad planning as stress free as possible… by Ella Hillyard
The first year abroad meetings start as early as term 1. As repetitive as they may seem, it is important you go to them because they have lots of useful information. Planning your year abroad almost a year in advance seems crazy but – trust me – it comes around fast. Get everything out of the way as soon as possible. It sounds obvious but you don’t want to leave it until term 3 when you also have exams to deal with. This is especially important when it comes to sorting out accommodation and bank accounts, even more so if you’re going to be living in a big city. Before I moved to Paris I underestimated how quickly all of the reasonably priced and high quality accommodation would disappear, leaving me frantically searching weeks before moving and paying over the odds for my accommodation. Don’t be like me. Do yourself a favour and sort it out early to take away the unnecessary last minute stress.
Forms, Forms, Forms
One of the less glamorous sides of studying abroad is the admin. You’re never short of forms to fill in, whether they’re from Warwick, the bank, your phone company or your receiving university – everyone needs something from you. The best thing you can do is fill them in as soon as possible. This might mean dedicating an entire day to form filling, but as dreadful as this might seem, it’s definitely worth it in the long run. First of all, the sooner you start, the sooner you finish. You won’t, like me, be waiting over two months for your Erasmus grant to come in if you just deal with the paperwork immediately. Secondly, once you’ve finished, you’ll have no deadlines to worry about and you can enjoy exploring your new home without those dreaded forms looming over you.
Checking it once, checking it twice
Checklists. That’s all I have to say. Writing down a list of all the forms you need to fill in, people to see and places to go really helps visualize how much you have to do and helps you to not forget anything. You’ll feel so much better when you can cross your tasks off and see your workload reduce. If you want to go the extra mile, go crazy and colour code each thing you need to do – that way you can prioritise important or time consuming tasks. For those of you that prefer online to pen and paper, Wunderlist has a synchronised app for your phone, where you can add and check off all the tasks you need to complete as and when you remember.
Connections are everything
Luckily, hundreds of students go on a year abroad. From studying in Monash, to teaching in a rural village in Spain, students have so many different experiences. If the idea of moving alone to a completely foreign country scares you (which is completely normal), ask around to see if anyone has already been to the same place as you, or had a similar experience. Friends of friends can be really useful, or you can try Warwick’s Year Abroad Facebook group. It’s a little bit harder if you’re going to a more rural location, but there are lots of people who have had similar experiences and can share their knowledge. Having a little bit of an insider’s perspective and knowing where to look for accommodation, where to do your grocery shopping and where to meet friends are the most valuable things you can do before you depart. Most people will jump at the chance to share their wisdom and tell you all about their time abroad – all you need to do is ask!
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of moving abroad and the amount of planning this takes. Don’t let this put you off – get on top of your planning today!
This is a three part series by Ella Hillyard on studying abroad. Read parts two two and three.
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