To many people the prospect of leaving University to the real world is just way too scary. To get around this you can add an extra year to your degree and go and live in another country under the guise of “Studying Abroad”. This is what I did. Sadly my year is over and I have now left Australia, the country I called home for the last year, and am now returning back to England for final year. This last year has been the most amazing experience but I do feel like I could have done a few things differently. So sit back and relax while I take you through my top tips on making the most of your Year Abroad.
1. Do some research
Yes, seriously. Before you leave, give yourself a nice idea of the country you’re visiting and what you can do there. If you’re like me and just leave the house with a passport and plane tickets stating “I’ll just figure it out when I get there” you might find yourself a little lost. Luckily I travelled over with a lot of other students from my uni and through them was able to get a good understanding of the country and how to sort my stuff out but looking back I would have liked to know a bit more before I came. Not only would it have made the first week a little easier but when it came to travelling I wouldn’t of needed to start from scratch.
2. Save up a little bit of money
One thing I knew before I flew out to Australia was that it was more expensive but I never thought it would be that much of an issue. Cut to 4 months in when I have $0 in my bank account and I start freaking out. If I’d had a little more of a safety net to fall back on I could have definitely got up to more stuff rather than sitting at home thinking “I need to save money”. Trust me you’d rather spend that money on your year abroad than on an extra round in the pub back home.
3. Get a Job
Now I don’t want to sound like your mum but yeah, get a job. The upsides are just incredible especially in Australia where the minimum wage for a 21 year old is roughly $22 and hour (that’s £11.24 at the current rate) which is more than I’ve ever earned in England. Other than giving you a little more spending money it also offers you a fantastic opportunity to get stuck into local culture, meet new people and generally improve your overall experience. The job I got myself this year has opened plenty of doors and let me enjoy the second half of the year spending more and worrying less.
4. Get out there
Now this point is probably more down to personal opinion but I suggest that everyone should immerse themselves as much as possible. Don’t stick with the people you know, get out there, meet people, make friends. I went into a house on my own with 4 complete strangers at the beginning of the year. Since then I have lived with 14 different people (through the same house) none of whom came from Leeds (my home uni). Now I’m not saying cut yourself off completely, that would be stupid. You should still socialise with and visit the people you came over with. I’ve had some of my best moments with people from Leeds but I’ve had equally amazing experiences with the people I’ve met putting myself out there. The other night I ended up at a Pop-Punk house party (I was very out of place) but if I hadn’t got out there I would never have had that opportunity. (BTW Punk isn’t dead but it definitely might be dying)
5. Travel, Travel and Travel again
Travel is one of the best things you can do in life and I will stand by this point until I die. There’s nothing quite like experiencing many different cultures, environments and ways of life around the globe. Studying abroad is an amazing time to take advantage of being somewhere completely new. From Australia I’ve travelled the whole of the East Coast in a car, spent time in Sydney, Melbourne and even bussed around Tasmania. There I met two Germans who I shared a car and tent with through the North and South island of New Zealand and I still feel like I haven travelled enough this year. I haven’t made it to Bali or Fiji much like a lot of other people studying in Australia or even seen everything there is to see around Brisbane (the city I lived in). This is definitely one of the best things to do while abroad, in 10 years time do you think you’ll remember that essay you spent time on or the time you jumped out of a plane? Hint, it’s the plane.
6. Have fun!
I mean why wouldn’t you! This year/6 months is an incredible opportunity that you are unlikely to get again don’t waste it. You do need to understand that sometimes having a lazy day isn’t a bad thing. I used to feel bad when I “wasted” a day as I only had a limited time in Australia but after a while I realised I’ was living there. I’m entitled to spend a day with a good book or in front of Netflix. Sometimes the best memories are just made with a few friends and a beer so don’t get too upset if you don’t spend every waking second doing something crazy. You will get stressed and you might get homesick but this is all part of the experience and you can’t let it ruin it!
Just remember this list is just my own experience and everyone is different so you live your study abroad however you want. I’d just recommend going with and open mind and a thirst for new experiences and you will not leave disappointed. The amount of independence and responsibility you are forced to learn moving to a completely new country and culture is incredible and will leave you all the better for having done it.
Also you can make a really cool looking video…