As I briefly touched on in my previous post, studying abroad as a part of your university program is a great way of incorporating your love of travelling into your degree. Most universities will offer a study abroad program for pretty much every course; there really is no limit and no one to say you can’t do it.
This is exactly what I did in my second year at university and is something I would recommend to anyone. It gave me the opportunity to travel more, meet new people from all over the world and challenge myself beyond my comfort zone as well as the opportunity for my boyfriend to have somewhere to stay for free when he fancied a holiday.
Despite the overwhelming positives of studying abroad, many are still holding back. So I’ve noted here what I’ve taken from my experience about how to get the most out of your own to ease maybe some of the worries that may be holding you back from your own experience!
Don’t worry if you’re going alone, or without your current friends. Talk to everyone!
Probably my main piece of advice for any one considering studying abroad is not to worry about being alone. University is all about meeting new people and I have noted ‘current’ friends in the header here for a reason. I know it’s cliche, but when you’re studying abroad everyone really is in the same boat and, much like in freshers’ week, you will click very quickly with others because of this. In my case, our Erasmus group got close very quickly and it was almost as if we’d known each other forever. Do try to branch out though and don’t just stick with other exchange students, try to really get involved in the university that you’re attending and make friends with native students. My point here really though is that you will not be lonely – while it may feel that way when you first arrive, I promise it doesn’t last long…
Get involved with your new community
Studying abroad is definitely a great time to push yourself and really get involved with new things as well as new people. Go to the socials, join the Erasmus group (or the equivalent if you’re studying outside of Europe), learn the language and get involved with your new community! So much can be said for throwing yourself into an opportunity like this and you really get so much more out of it if you do. I loved Cheerleading at my home university and found a local group while I was in Germany. Even though it was terrifying, joining the group helped to improve my understanding of the language so much (because everything was in German!) and I was also challenged at a higher level of cheer and I got even better! They were also the loveliest group in the world and it was a great community to be a part of.
Ok, this sounds really stupid. I get it: “I’m abroad, I’m already travelling”. Ok. No. What I mean is, explore more of the country you’re in – especially if you’re like me and you live in the UK rather than on mainland Europe. On the mainland, it’s so much easier to get to different countries. In Germany, Flixbus was a favourite for us, but there are many other coach companies that can take you across Europe for as little as 5 Euros. It’s mental. Fair enough it may take a lot longer than other forms of travelling – but can you really fault it for the price? We took a group trip to Berlin with Flixbus and made a trip of the journey as well, I think I only spent 70 Euros in total for travel and the hostel.
For European exchanges, Erasmus are also amazing at putting on great trips for still very cheap. We toured three cities (two of those being in different countries) in 5 days while staying in cabins in the black forest. While we were all completely ruined when we got back, it was only because we had such a good time. This trip was one of the top highlights of my exchange and I would definitely recommend looking into the Erasmus group of the city you’re looking to study in.
Do be warned though – there is a lot of paper work to get through (booo)
This was my only gripe about my experience and something you do need to be aware of. It’s not that it’s not doable, it’s just a lot and sometimes it can be a bit confusing. I’m unsure about how it works when you do an exchange to Australia or the US from the UK, but it definitely is for Erasmus . My housemates in second year can definitely vouch for how grumpy I got, but again, your university’s study abroad office will have all the information about the documents you need to go through and will be able to help you, so if you’re confused and/or stressed don’t worry – that’s totally normal!
To find out about where you can go and what you have to do to start your journey, visit your course’s homepage or google the details for your university’s study abroad office. Your university should have a dedicated team who will be able to give you all the information you need and happily answer any questions you may have.