What's the deal with this place? Do I have to register somewhere? Where should I start my quest for accommodation? Where do I find my coursebooks? What's a ticket restaurant? What sort of culture shock should I prepare for?
Get help and advice from people in the know, read through our articles and make sure you're kept up to speed on what to look out for once you're in the thick of it!
That’s it. The paperwork’s been signed, your tickets are booked and you’ve even figured out where the best shops or bars are in your soon-to-be-new-home. You’re about to set off on your year abroad! Already, you anticipate the sights and smells of the city, or the open air of the countryside, and the exciting times to come exploring a new place with friends you haven’t even met yet.
Christopher Walker is doing a BA in Multilingual Studies (French, German and Italian) at Royal Holloway, University of London, and has spent his year abroad in La Réunion and Pisa. Here are his thoughts on what he has missed about the UK while he's been away.
Lying on the beach soaking up the Spanish sun with not a care in the world, but just as the sand starts to creep into your hair and you take a deep breath to inhale the sea-air, you remember that project you have to do for University. Suddenly the experience becomes nothing like you had envisaged when you chose your degree programme 3 years ago and were promised a fun-filled time abroad. The reality of an impending University deadline hits you and you’re forced to dump the beach towel, screw the lid back on the sun lotion and head inside to start the essay you thought would be a lot easier to churn out when the time came.
‘The year abroad is a fantastic experience and I’d recommend it to everyone.’ Heard that before? Probably – it’s pretty much what all year abroad students say to everyone back home, and it’s true! But having a ‘fantastic experience’ doesn’t necessarily mean having ‘fantastic time’ all of the time. The truth is that for just about everybody who takes a year abroad, there are some pretty tough moments, and we all sometimes wonder ‘is it just me, or is everything not always croissants and chocolat chaud?’.
Anna-Marie Odubote is studying English Literature and Hispanic Studies at the University of Liverpool, and is spending her year abroad as a Language Assistant in Madrid... but it's affecting her English! Here are some funny experiences and linguistic mishaps she's had so far...
Esther is 22 years old, and is studying Politics and International Relations with French at the University of Kent. She spent her year abroad studying in Lille, France, from September 2012 to June this year. Here are her experiences of the four stages of a year abroad.
Hannah is studying French and Italian at the University of Salford, and is spending her year abroad studying in Forlì, Italy, and teaching in a collège lycée in Brittany, France. Here is her advice for keeping busy and avoiding boredom on your year abroad...
It’s a great time to be a year abroad student. The sun has well and truly got his hat on, picnics in the park or at the beach become a daily occurrence, work/university becomes even less of a priority, and one glance at your Facebook or Twitter newsfeed confirms why you took a year abroad in the first place: all your third year friends back at home are panicking through the 17th draft of their dissertation or drowning in revision notes for their final exams, and you’re definitely, definitely not.
Jen is studying English and French at the University of Warwick, and is spending her year abroad as a Language Assistant in Caen, the largest city in Normandy. Here is her advice about documenting your year abroad with 'BlipPhoto', a blog for keen photographers.