Study Abroad – An Honest Preparation Guide

This is for anyone who is about to go on an exchange abroad, or who is thinking about it, to find out what you might expect from the experience.

  • It will be exciting at times and it will be scary at times. Through all of it, the time you have is only temporary so make the most of the exciting moments and don’t worry too much about the scary ones.
  • There will be boring days, not everything will be exciting, you will get into a routine, and the study abroad experience will become ‘life’ for a while.
  • When you get back after the year, give yourself some time to relax at home. You might not be able to process all that has happened, but you will appreciate the space to sit and just be.
  • You won’t enjoy everything about it. There will always be bits that you wish were different, or things that you don’t want to do.
  • You’ll gain a new appreciation for the experiences you’ve grown up with and for British culture.
  • You’ll gain a new appreciation for what new experiences and different cultures can teach you, and how some things that you have always known can be viewed differently.
  • Travelling is fun. It is also tiring, and stressful, and boring at times. But it is worth it.
  • You’ll meet a lot of different people from a lot of different places. An awareness for other people and cultures will stay with you even after returning from abroad.
  • You will make mistakes, whether it’s cultural blunders or forgetting to buy a travel visa (yep, I did this), it’s all a part of what makes studying abroad what it is.

Most important to realise is that studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to grow and learn new skills that are hard to find anywhere else. It’s a great chance to make new international friends and to realise how big the world really is.

I would recommend anyone to live abroad for a while, it is an eye opening experience.

Trish

dsc_0093

[Semester 1 where me and my friends from Germany, America, and France all went to see Bohemian Rhapsody at the local cinema.]

Goodbye for Now

Finishing my year abroad was probably one of the weirdest experiences of my life. Going home at the end of the second semester was very different from going home for Christmas, as this time I knew it was unlikely I would be able to go back to California anytime soon. In the last month I spent in Humboldt, I really learnt how attached I had become to the place and the people I had met and it was very sad to say goodbye to this part of my life. 

I found that by the second semester, the year abroad started to feel a lot more real than it did in the first semester, and I began to see my life in Humboldt as less temporary. I think this was one of the biggest lessons I learnt from the exchange, that it wasn’t so much about going to a new and exciting place to be doing new and fun things everyday, but it was about what it is like to live life in a different place and culture. This adaptation to a new lifestyle and exposure to other ways of living was one of the most valuable parts of my experience, and it was strange to say goodbye to that.

The final month in Humboldt was busy. I had a lot of academic work to finish for the semester, I tried to spend more time with the friends I had made before leaving, and on top of everything I had to finalise travel plans and start thinking about the next year by choosing my modules and paying housing deposits. I think this final month, where uni work was carrying on like normal despite everything else that was going on for me, taught me about treating everything, even things that are out of the ordinary as a part of life. I was desperate not to focus too much on the future as I wanted to enjoy and remember the last few weeks abroad, but I also needed to finish organising. By realising that this tension I was living with was okay and didn’t have to be resolved I think I managed to get more out of the end of my year abroad.

Having been back at home for about a month now, it sometimes feels like my year abroad didn’t even happen. I have settled back into British life very easily and I have been very busy with an internship and other events that have been going on almost immediately after getting back (in hindsight, I should have given myself a bit more breathing space to relax after my year out). I think the year abroad experience is still all too recent to fully sort out my thoughts and feelings on it all, but there have been subtle differences in that I feel I am now more confident and I do think the way I see and understand the world has altered slightly, I realise there’s a lot more on offer than what I’ve experienced at home, and there must be even more to learn from travelling to new and different places which I am much more open to doing since living abroad for the year. 

I think it will still be a while before I understand exactly what this experience has meant for me, but for now I am very glad I did it and I will continue to look for opportunities to learn new things and be open to living outside of my comfort zone.

Trish