Preparing for the Year Abroad – My Top 5 Tips!
The time has finally come. My year abroad is now completely over and I am back in England to start my summer holidays. Whilst I am still in disbelief at just how fast these past 9/10 months have gone, I am equally as excited to kickstart my summer plans and settle back in to the UK. As it stands, I have lots coming up from now until the start of August, with holidays, birthdays, graduation parties and general reunions filling up most of my time. I was especially eager to ensure I was busy upon returning back to England, as the last thing I wanted was to sit around and drown in my post-year abroad blues.
Alas, this time last year I was frantically (and excitedly) preparing for my Erasmus in Cologne. A lot of my ‘preparations’ were based off advice from returning students who had already completed their year abroad – which turned out to be the best source of advice in my opinion. Without it, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do before my Erasmus, and probably would have been ten times more stressed! Therefore, I feel I should also pass on my ‘year abroad wisdom’ to all those who are starting it this year and need a little helping hand with their preparations.
1. Print off everything important before you go
Yes, that’s right. Everything. You will very unlikely have a printer in your new flat/accomodation, and printing in the city can be both complicated and expensive. As a result, make sure all your erasmus forms, passport photos, certificates etc are all printed out and stored in a folder before you embark on your international journey. Your future self will only thank you for it!
2. Find out what Erasmus organisations operate in your city
Before I journeyed to Cologne, I searched Facebook and Instagram endlessly to find out what events were going on for incoming Erasmus students. I stumbled across both ESN and Pim&Cems, which both offered a wealth of Erasmus events at the start of the semester, and throughout. These events made for the perfect opportunity to meet people and form my initial friendship groups. Without researching it properly, I would never have known about both ESN and Pim&Cems, therefore I strongly reccommend you do your research and find out about what Erasmus organisations operate in the city you are going to!
3. Sort out accommodation early
Finding accommodation was one of the hardest tasks I faced during my Erasmus, especially because of the housing situation currently going on in Cologne. To make my life easier, I lived with a family during the first month, and then went on to find a flat from November onwards. As a result, I can only reccommend you sort out accomodation as early as possible, and don’t rule out living with a family at the start – it can save you a lot of time, stress and money!
4. Research the country and city as much as possible
Germany is an incredibly different country to the UK, from cuisine to culture, activities to languages, social life to social sytem – it was all a major change for me. However, in order to best prepare myself, I did as much research as possible surrounding the country and Cologne itself, using Youtube, Google and other people’s blogs as a source of information. I stongly reccomend you do the same, so it is not such a great shock when you enter your new country and realise you’re no longer in England!
5. Check out what sports are on offer in your city
Before I went to Germany, I researched what sports I could try out whilst I was there, and fortunately there were a lot. Within my first week I tried out water skiing, and also joined a fitness boxing club as soon as the semester started – both of which I had never tried out before. Had I not taken the time to research the sports opportunities in Cologne, I would have missed out on both of these classes – so do your research and get involved!
So that’s it for this blog, I hope you feel more prepared for your year abroad and don’t hesitate to ask me any further questions – I know how stressful it can all be!
See you in my next blog