Right, so it’s been a couple of weeks since I started telling you about how I was preparing myself for my year abroad and think it’s time for an update, as I have noticed (and fallen into) a few pitfalls:
Find it. Unfortunately, my Nan has lost all memory of having my birth certificate (I call it selective Alzheimer’s) so I had to order a new one. This is easily done on the internet but cost me the extortionate sum of £23 as I needed it tout de suite. It will, however, hopefully come in handy at some point in time during my stay abroad.
I took what I thought was the intelligent step of booking a seat on the Eurostar to take me to the continent as it meant I could take as much as I could carry without worrying about luggage. I appear to have taken this far too literally and have managed to fill about 60kg of suitcase. I am beginning to wonder whether I will make it to Germany or whether I will have a breakdown at St. Pancras station when I leave. I employed a friend to be brutal and make me remove things I don’t need from my suitcase which meant I had to say goodbye to a hand blender (“but what if I wanted to make soup!”), a measuring cylinder (“but it’s my favourite one!”) and some plates (“why on EARTH was I taking plates?!”). After the emotional trauma of that episode, I now feel I may actually be able to haul my suitcases as I trek through London, Brussels, Cologne, Koblenz and Berlin in 2 weeks’ time, before moving on to an as-yet undisclosed location in Spain for my assistantship in September.
If you intend to make the most out of your year abroad and use the time from the last exam of 2nd year to the first lecture of 4th year (gulp) as your time abroad, as I am doing, you need to be incredibly anal about organisation. You have to plan everything down to the goodbye meal with your grandparents so you know you don’t forget anything. Planning this meticulously does cut into your revision time but if you are incredibly anal, it may help you calm down about exams as you have allotted breaks, something to look forward to and, provided you’ve done enough revision during the Easter break, you should still be able to go fully-prepared into your exams.
Transferring money between your UK account and a foreign account costs some dollar (I believe I paid about £7.50) and you won’t always get the best exchange rate. I wouldn’t advocate walking around with thousands of Euros/krone/pesos/zloty/yen, so use the Post Office’s scheme for transferring money, which, unlike Western Union, won’t end up costing you extortionate fees as there are none and you can fix your exchange rate for a year so you don’t have to worry about losing out if your foreign/home currency has a weak patch.
This will probably be the last time I blog from the UK, the next time you hear from me I will be on the continent, having started my year abroad! Until then, then!