Need a language booster?
Come June, as a language student, you should be feeling pretty confident about your adopted foreign lingo. But what if you're not a natural? What if you aren't even studying a language and you're planning to go abroad in September? The autumn is quite some time away, and by that time, you might not be as sharp as when you finished those dreaded exams...How could you improve your skills, whilst still enjoying the summer? Fear not, we've got the answer(s)! Whether you're stressing about entrance exams, or about to sign those all important contract papers, you could do a lot worse than booking a fleeting (or not so fleeting) trip to foreign lands... Here's our pick of some of the best options out there:
Pick up a language and a new skill in one!
If you fancy spending time abroad, check out GoLearnTo, a company which offers a huge selection of learning holidays in countries all over the world. Their eclectic choice ranges from Spanish and Surfing in Ecuador, to Portuguese and Samba in Brazil, to language courses in Canada... Have a look at what they've got on offer and take your pick from hundreds of options! Their language courses range from 1 week to 6 months, and leave you with plenty of time to relax (or party) on the weekends. You could even double up with a friend or relative from home. One of the best things about GoLearnTo is the fact accommodation can be sorted out for you, either staying with a family (yes to home cooking) or in hostels/hotels.
A couple of other good alternatives are Caledonia Languages and Cactus Language, both offering courses and activities, wide-ranging and far away! Another great site to keep an eye out for is Ooh.com, a free global notice board featuring the most exciting and unusual things to do all around the world. With a variety of courses, accommodation and events advertised, the site ensures you'll find something to occupy your summer with, and get a chance to improve your language skills as well! Truffle hunting in France anyone?
Earn while you Learn
If language courses don't really sound like your bag, and you're looking to earn while you learn, as it were, you might want to take a look at becoming a nanny or working in the tourism industry abroad. Jobs Abroad offers all sorts of work in foreign climes, just use their search and see what it comes up with... Or you could go down the au-pair route and get free accommodation, food and little bit of pocket money in exchange for childcare. Whatever your interests, there's bound to be something out there for you, whether it's helping out with the grape harvest in France, or becoming a seasonal tour guide in Greece, you can make it happen by simply doing a little research. You might even make a little money to boot, and you'll definitely feel more equipped to deal with a year away!
Get your new appartment and flatmates lined up
Accommodation might also be a big worry for the majority of you - it's all fine and good studying or working on the YA but what about finding some cheap digs before everyone else arrives? Well, you could justify a weekend trip to your destination of choice and go on the property search. Great websites such as Craig's list and Easy roommate are flat-hunting sites which cover pretty much the whole world. They're a good place to start, you can get an idea of what's on offer and what's the going rate. We strongly recommend you don't sign anything before having seen it first, and on the language front, it's a really good idea to live with locals.
Hmmm what to pack? Don't leave it til the last minute!
Don’t forget one of the most exciting parts of going abroad: packing! It sounds simple, but pack light. Once your bag is full, walk it up and down the stairs and up and down your street. You may look a little stupid going back and forth, but you'll be better off knowing just how much you can lug about. If you really can't make do without certain items (who are we to judge if that extra pair of shoes/massive speakers are an absolute necessity?), take a look at Voovit who are offering a 5% discount on shipping for our users. A useful little book worth investing in is Fodor's How to Pack, which is filled with ingenious tips on space saving. Bring a light backpack too, it really is useful for day trips/short weekend stays, and check out our articles for more information.
If all goes to plan, by September you will have brushed up on your language skills, found accommodation and made a list of what to pack. What next? First, don’t panic! Try to get in contact with other English speakers already abroad before you go, so that you have contacts you can go to in a crisis: it can be lonely out there in the first few weeks. Sign up here to get speaking to fellow year abroad enthusiasts and ask any questions in the forum!