How To Survive A Full Year Abroad
Tips for making the most out of studying abroad for a full year.
Many American college students make the wise choice to study abroad, although the majority only embark on a single semester experience. But for those who spend a full school year abroad, some different lifestyle tactics are required to ensure that you can not only afford and organize 10 months of traveling and studying in a different country, but that you can truly appreciate every minute of this intercultural experience.
Space out your travels
An obvious perk of studying abroad for a full school year is that you have more time! Rather than rushing off to a new destination every weekend, take time in between trips to get to know the city you live in. One semester abroad can pressure you to pack in as much traveling as possible, but living an entire year at this pace will easily burn out your energy and money. A longer time frame allows you to relax and experience your home city at a deeper level, while still having time to travel often.
Find a job
Funding an entire year of traveling can be stressful, but a full year of residency usually allows you to work while abroad, and many businesses are willing to hire students who can dedicate their time for more than a few months. Having a source of income to support your travels takes a huge weight off your shoulders.
Make local friends
Making friends with fellow study abroad students is wonderful because you often share the same feelings about traveling and culture shock. But since most Americans only study abroad for one semester, it can be sad to watch some of your closest friends return home after a few months. That’s why making friends with locals is so important. Not only will you experience the joys of forming connections with people from around the world, but they will remain by your side for the whole year.
Having more time abroad means more incredible experiences, so it is essential to record as much as possible. Take pictures of everything and keep a journal to write down the details of your experience. Years from now, you may remember the important aspects of your year abroad, but sometimes it’s the little pieces of beauty or inspiration that truly make an experience unique. Living abroad for a year is an incredible opportunity, make sure you don’t forget any of it.
Eat and drink affordably
Trying local restaurants and experiencing nightlife are important parts of living in a new country, but eating out and drinking every night can become quite expensive. Limit yourself to eating out on special occasions, and try cooking for yourself if you have a kitchen. Also consider buying your own alcohol at the supermarket and drinking with friends at home before heading out to a club, as this is much cheaper than buying individual drinks at a bar.
Enjoy a few longer trips
A full school year contains multiple holiday breaks, so take advantage of those days off for longer vacations to supplement the popular weekend-trip. Spending a week in one country allows you to really immerse yourself in a different culture and venture out to the less touristy destinations, resulting in a more enriching experience.
Take school seriously
Parents, teachers, and study-abroad counselors consistently reinforce the “Study” aspect of “Study Abroad”, but they are absolutely right. Studying abroad means paying lots of money to attend an amazing international school, and it’s important not to take that opportunity for granted. Education really is a privilege, and getting the chance to learn about new topics from international professors can hugely enhance your academic credibility. Use a year abroad to expand your knowledge of different cultures, engage with new skills and academic material, and enhance your world view. This will not only make you more attractive to future employers, but it will make you a more informed and intelligent citizen.
Only buy the truly worthwhile souvenirs
It’s common to desire souvenirs while traveling, but an excess of trinkets and memorabilia can clutter a living space and add up to be quite costly. Be sure to only spend money on things you might actually use, like piece of clothing or a book. If you find something else incredibly unique that you absolutely cannot resist, consider whether it will still mean something to you ten years from now.
Sign up for Travelcards
Many places offer discounted packages for transportation around the city, such as Coachcards or Railcards. However, these are usually only available for someone residing in the area for more than a few months. If you are living in a city for more than 6 months, definitely take advantage of discounted transportation to save some money during your time there.
Keep in touch with friends and family
While a full year abroad will bless you with so many life-changing experiences and you will undoubtedly make lots of amazing new friends, homesickness is inevitable. Particularly around the holidays, living away from your loved ones can be extremely difficult, so it is essential to keep in touch via phone calls, email, social media, and video-chatting. Though you shouldn’t contact home so often that you fail to meet new people abroad, definitely do make an effort to maintain connections with the people who care about you back home. Missing home can be one of the hardest parts of a year abroad, but one of the best parts is the intense appreciation and admiration you gain for those friends and family you left behind.