1. Make a to-do-list of everything you need to do or buy. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into a year abroad and sometimes you can lose track of what you’ve done and what you’ve got to do. To do lists are definitely the way forward!
2. Make sure you have all the important documents you’re going to need. Have multiple photocopies of your passport/ legal paper work in case you need it. I have copies of my work contract and my passport all in a plastic folder to keep organised. Passport photos are also a plus, and of course make sure your passport is in date for when you’ll be heading home as well. Also check out the laws for the country you’re going to- for example in Italy you must always have some form of identification on you if you get stopped by the police, so carrying a photocopy of your passport instead of you original one might be wiser.
3. Make sure you have all your important contacts in one place. Your year abroad coordinator, your work placement/ host university contact and also details of your accommodation so that someone back home knows where you are all the time. On that note as well make sure you know the local emergency number, it’s not the same in every country! (112 is the pan-European emergency number)
4. If you’re on regular medication make sure you’ve requested repeat prescriptions before leaving. It can be tricky to find the same medicine (for which the costs may also vary) and the right dosage, whilst abroad. Also stock up on paracetamol and antihistamine if you know that you’re prone to headaches or have any allergies. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
5. Join different group chats to meet young people in your area. There are numerous group chats on many different social platforms. Whether your on a study year abroad or a work placement you’re bound to find some sort of group set up for socialising online. It’s not only a great way to socialise, but it is very practical and useful if you have any questions, general concerns, or perhaps are looking to team up with someone for accommodation. Another website which I recently discovered from a fellow YouTuber, is called thirdyearaboard. The website includes both blog posts of people’s experience, frequently answered questions, as well as practical advice.
6. Make sure you have insurance. My university personally covers the majority of my insurance, but since I am also planning to do a bit of travelling whilst I’m on my year abroad, I decided it would be wise to sign up for a travel specific insurance. I signed up with ‘insure and go‘ for their ‘annual budget’ package, which cost £29.99. It’s a really good package deal that covers lost baggage, delayed flights, illness etc and the price definitely won’t break the bank! If you are going to a European country make sure you have a European health insurance card. I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be available for given brexit but whilst it’s still there you might as well.
7. Sort out your finance. Make sure you take enough money to last you a couple of months in case you’re not being paid on time if you’re working or your student loan comes late. I would recommend taking enough money to last you for the first 3 months your out there.
8. Setting up a bank account. Depending on what you want out of the bank account and for how long you’re going it might be worth considering setting up a bank account. I personally decided to opt for the post office travel money card. They have this available either in Euros or Dollars and it is a very simple application process. The card works just like a debit card, charging you however a fee (€2) only when withdrawing money.
9. If you’re staying with a host family bring a small gift. It’s nice to show your gratitude and perhaps give them a taste of your culture at the same time. Chocolates/ biscuits or the traditional Earl grey are sure to be a hit. If you’re doing a work placement you might also want to consider bringing a little something for your boss to make a good first impression.
10.RELAX AND HAVE FUN! Once you’ve gotten everything stressful out of the way just relax and begin to mentally prepare yourself for an action-packed year of surprises.