Getting Ready for your Year Abroad
Now that exams are over, those of you lucky enough to be heading on a year abroad will be thinking ahead to the next chapter. I studied abroad in Arlington, Texas and I had a truly amazing time. With that in mind, here are my top tips for a successful and happy year!
Firstly, you’ve got to make sure you have all the correct travel documents for your year abroad. For me, that meant five hours sat alone in the American Embassy in London waiting for a short visa interview. Depending on your destination, you may just need a valid passport or a special type of visa like I did. Make sure you have a backed-up copy of all your travel documents before you leave.
Before you go, do some in-depth research about your new home. Moving to a different country can be intimidating, but knowing the most you can about the laws and social customs of your destination will help you settle in. The internet is a great resource, and there’s lots of advice available that’s regularly updated and free to access. An example of this is the Foreign Office website, which has pages for every country and is regularly updated. They also have information for specific groups such as women, LGBT+ travellers, and those with mental health needs.
Once you’ve done your research, it’s probably time to get packing. Consider investing in new luggage to keep your belongings safe and secure. You should also pack light, because you’ll be surprised at how many things you’ll accumulate over the course of ten months. Make sure to leave more than a little space so you can get everything home. Moving to a foreign country is a good chance to have a clear out of your wardrobe. So, you should avoid packing worn out or ill-fitting clothes and donate or recycle anything you no longer wear. Make sure you research the climate of your new home, and pack accordingly too!
Finally, once you’re there you should make every effort to meet new people and try new things. Although homesickness can be tough, having a good support network around you can help you settle in and maintain your mental wellbeing. While in Texas, I volunteered as a peer educator and competed with my university’s Model UN team which made me feel less alone and allowed me to travel across the US.
Have a fantastic year abroad!