The longer I am here in NYC, the more I am missing London. It is unfair to compare the two, but I just can’t help myself! So I figured a good way to deal is to list some helpful tips for students that might be soon leaving for their own study abroad experiences.
1. Know what you want
I had wanted to study abroad in London for so long, I knew that I wanted to spend as much time as I could getting to know the city. Of course you could spend a life time in London and still not see everything. Everybody wants different things out of their study abroad experience. It is very popular for students to take advantage of the close proximity to other countries and cheap travel during their time. But I also know people that spend their time getting to know their host country really well. Know which one you want to be before getting there.
2. Invest in your feet
I CANNOT stress this enough. Coming from a girl that has more than her fair share of leg/knee/feet problems it is SO CRUCIAL to invest in a good pair of walking shoes. Don’t be afraid to wear sneakers! These Nikes are so popular with Europeans, you will blend right in with the locals. They will literally wear them with anything. Or if you’re there in the summer, Chacos are also a good option. They also pretty much go with everything and are super comfy and easy to walk miles (or kilometers) in. I loved my brown boots and wore them everyday even though they didn’t make it back to the States.
3. Learn the local lingo
Obviously, if you are studying in a country that speaks a different language than you do, it would be important to learn some key phrases in your host language. But don’t let English speaking countries fool you! UK English is very different than US English, whether it’s the spelling, pronunciation, or the meaning. Remember that pants in the UK means underwear and trousers are pants. Don’t want to make that mistake while looking for something in Topshop! Use this infographic to study up before landing.
4. Try it out
In Dublin but have never had Guinness? TRY IT! I didn’t think I would like Guinness at all but I surprised myself! That philosophy can apply to every single thing you do while studying abroad. When else are you going to be able to drink real Italian wine while actually sitting in Italy? Or sky dive over the Swiss Alps? Don’t be afraid to try things you might be scared of or think you won’t like! Even if just to be able to brag about it!
5. Learn to like alone time
Another one that I cant stress enough. Is there something that you really want to do abroad but can’t find someone else that also wants to do it? Go alone! It is totally intimidating at first, but you’ll soon realize there was nothing to worry about. I also encourage every single one of you reading this to take at least one trip by yourself. Even if its in your host country and only for one night. You WILL meet so many incredible people and get to have some quality time with yourself.
6. Get lost
This is one I really struggled with. I get really nervous and uneasy when I don’t know where I am or where I am going (because I usually always do) so it was really hard for me to let go and get lost a few times while abroad. The first time I did get lost, I got myself out of it and realized that if I made a mistake the I would TOTALLY be FINE! And SO WILL YOU!!
7. Be the tourist
For a lot of people where ever they choose to study abroad will be their first experience in that place! So for your first few days/weeks/whatever don’t be afraid to do all the tourist attractions! They are tourist attractions for a GOOD REASON! They are usually the best option for a crash-course introduction into your new temporary home.
8. Save up
So this is pretty obvious. You’re going to want to save up before you actually arrive but don’t forget to save while you’re there as well! It is waay too easy to blow all your money quickly and run out before you even make it back home. If you pass something on the street that you MUST HAVE, you might want to reconsider, especially if you have a trip coming up. I had a weekly budget that I stuck with and that helped me a ton! Find what works best for you.
9. Immerse yourself completely
Whether it’s in what you wear, what you eat, what you say or even how fast you walk try to completely immerse yourself in your host culture. The more you do this, the more this new place will feel like home. I wore black the whole time I was in London. For anybody that doesn’t know me, black clothes make me depressed and I hate wearing them but you can bet that no one recognized me as an outsider! I mean they all dress so flawlessly, but why so much black?! I got treated as a local because I looked, acted and spoke (minus the accent) like a local and my experience was so much better because of it.
10. NO FOMO
FOMO (fear of missing out) if pretty much inevitable while you’re studying abroad. But for the love of God do not let that hold you back. It is totally ok and natural to be homesick! But do you have any idea how many of the people back home would rather be in your shoes!? Keep that in mind as your hiking the Cliffs of Moher or strolling along the Seine or deciding what new country you’re going to jet off to the next weekend.
I hope this helps! I know a lot of tips are the same everywhere, but they are for a reason!
I did forget one tip… HAVE FUN!!!!! (duh)