Going to study abroad is daunting – it’s a huge challenge, and the fact that you’ve decide to do it shows your strength of character.
Although it’s a brave thing for you to do, the chances are that you won’t regret it.
However, you will get nervous, homesick and confused at times, but this will be balanced out by the many positive and enlightening experiences that you will have.
You’ll barely be the same person by the time you return – assuming you do decide to return, that is. You might have so much fun and make so many friends that you end up wanting to stay indefinitely; or you might find employment as soon as you graduate with your new qualification.
However, in the weeks and months running up to a big commitment like this, you’re likely to become nervous and doubt yourself at times, though there are some things you can do. Just try to focus on the reasons why you chose this path, and channel your energies into some serious preparation.
Try not to Overpack
Many people take far too many things that they don’t really need when they go and study abroad, and they end up having to get rid of a lot of their possessions. It may seem like you have plenty of possessions that you couldn’t live without, but it will save you so much time and stress in the long run to get a sensible idea of what you’re actually going to need to take.
You don’t want to pack a bunch of clothes that don’t fit into what’s in vogue in the UK, making you stand out like a sore thumb. It’s great fun to learn about new styles and have an excuse to go shopping to buy new clothes, which is also a great way of bonding with the new friends you will have made. Just make sure you take your toothbrush, some clothes that you really can’t live without, and anything you need for your course.
If you’re moving out and you’re going a long way then there’s no getting out of it – you will experience homesickness in some way. However, don’t be overcome, particularly not before you’ve even gone. Get a strategy in place that will help you once you arrive.
A good idea might be to arrange a weekly, or even daily, time for phone calls with your parents. You could also talk to your best friend about communicating via letters so that you will have something to spend your time on, and a way of staying in touch long term. However, try not to get too hung up on what you will have left behind. Remember, you’re going to make new friends and you simply won’t feel so homesick after a short while.
Why did you choose the UK? Is there a particular interest you have that’s always made you want to live in the UK? It might be that you’re a Charles Dickens fan, and you can’t wait to find out more about nineteenth century London; make sure you keep up with your interest, even if it turns out to be uncool or something you like keeping private.
Explore the interests that took you there, even if they aren’t completely relevant to your studies. Or is there a hobby that you’ve always wanted to do back home but never found the chance or else were worried about peer pressure? This is an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself as whoever you want to be, so make sure there are interesting activities that you can occupy your time with.
Sort Out the Important Stuff
These are the things you need to do before you go. Firstly, make sure you know where you’ll be sleeping – if you’re studying in Liverpool then search student accommodation Liverpool until you find the right accommodation solution for you, and you can do this on Student.com. Remember to think about which campus you’ll be using, and identify the best route there.
You won’t be able to take your car with you, so it might be best for you to invest in a reliable bicycle, but do bear in mind that the public bus system is generally reliable and inexpensive. So if you spend a little time working out what the schedules all mean then you could become a UK bus veteran with cheap access to all parts of the city. Remember to try and have the correct coins to use for your journeys – drivers are reluctant to accept notes.
Prepare to Read
If you’re nervous about the details of your trip, use your energy and channel it into preparing for your studies. A lot of students come to university without much preparation at all, but if you can get into the habit of reading and researching whenever you’re feeling nervous then it could have a big and positive impact on your experiences when you arrive.
There should be a reading list for your course which you can access online beforehand – but don’t panic if they haven’t released it yet because everybody will be in the same situation. You could even try your hand at some practice essays.
Don’t worry if you don’t end up doing as much preparation as you’d planned to do. Most students won’t be too far ahead of you, and you should bear in mind that the fact that you’ve been accepted means you do have what it takes. This is going to be one of the most character building experiences of your life, so you might as well get excited about it and prepare yourself to have fun.
If you do have any worries, do what you can to look up the support services that will be in place for you when you arrive there. There might be a medical center you can use on campus, and they will be able to direct you to further support services if needs be.
- Rick Steves, Gene Openshaw
- Rick Steves
- Edition no. 2017 ed. (2016-10-04)
- City Trails London
- Lonely Planet Kids, Moira Butterfield, Dynamo Ltd
- Lonely Planet
- Fodor's Travel Guides
- Edition no. 2016 ed. (2015-09-22)
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