I survived a year teaching in Saint Denis in France! So, I’m doing my best to put together some advice that helped me while I was away to help people that are going abroad soon or are thinking about it. I don’t want this blog post to be preaching the same things that everyone does, for example, ‘It’ll be the best experience of your life’. Because there will be days when you’ll be homesick, tired or fed up!
Yet, there are also plenty of chances for you to meet new people and to try new things! This will be what will help you to get the most out of this time away. Here are some of my tips for getting through your year abroad! Hopefully, they will help make the transition from university to studying or working abroad much easier.
1. Get your tech sorted
Depending on your budget, consider investing in a tablet or laptop. Skype and FaceTime work wonders when you're away from family and friends as sometimes being able to see their faces can reassure you.
2. Encourage people to come and visit you
If your landlord allows it, having people come to stay is not only a good homesickness cure, but it's a good confidence boost when people get to see how you've adapted to life abroad. You can show them around where you're staying! And, if you're somewhere where English isn't the first language, you'll have some new vocabulary to show off.
Make the most of being away. I was so lucky being somewhere so central but even if you're not in a big city, get yourself to the nearest town! See somewhere no one's ever heard of, or even better, go to a big city and then catch the bus or the train to somewhere completely different! Just explore! I managed to make it to Berlin, Brussels, Normandy, Amsterdam and Bruges but even now, I wish I had gone to more places.
4. Keep a diary
I would have had so many more blog posts ready if I had actually stuck to my resolution of documenting my time away. Your 50-year-old self will thank you when you're reminiscing about your younger days.
5. Push yourself
Half the time it's tempting to stay in your room and watch Netflix, especially if you're in a smaller place. I used to go for walks around the city when bored! You see way more of where you're staying and it's quite nice wandering around as someone who lives there, as opposed to just a tourist.
6. Reward yourself with chill days
Saying that, don't beat yourself up if some nights you want to stay in and binge watch a series. Being abroad can be a rewarding but also draining experience. Especially if you're on the go all day plus trying to make yourself understood in a foreign language! Don't forget to relax.
7. Don't rely on Facebook
My most important top tip! Facebook can be a great place for letting your family know how you're getting on. Plus other things like setting up group chats and sharing photos of your travels. But, it's far too easy to let yourself become saddened if you see everyone's lives online. Especially if you're not necessarily having the best experience. Chances are, the people posting about what an amazing time they're having will have spent plenty of nights in bed feeling homesick too! So it’s important to remember that it won’t just be you that's struggling.
I hope some of these tips will help you when you’re away. I know from first-hand experience how lonely you can sometimes feel. But the more you say yes to, the easier things will get. I hope this advice helps as you prepare for your own time away. Merci!
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