Tips for studying abroad

Since my year abroad came to its end pretty much a month ago now I see students on their short placements abroad getting ready for the big year abroad. It’s a pretty funny feeling, makes me think, “it’s your turn now guys, go and do your thing and make the most of this new adventure.”

So, with this in mind I thought I would write a list of tips for students thinking of studying on their year abroad. Some of these tips may also be helpful for anyone working abroad too but I understand there are differences.

Some of these tips I found useful for me personally, others are things that probably would have helped me.

Anyway here’s my list of tips!

Accommodation

  • Plan where you will be living well in advance and complete any necessary paperwork in advance just in case there are any problems. For students the easiest option is living at a student residence which is also the cheapest option. However, it is also the most basic option. An other option is living with a family which may suit some students better than others, but this is a great way to practice your French. Although this is a more expensive option prices will vary from family to family, but many will include meals.
  • If you do choose to live in a student residence I would suggest packing your own bedding to save yourself buying it when you arrive. 
  • Also, pack some home comforts, they’ll help.

    Getting around

    • Once you are settled, depending on where you are staying, invest in a travel card which you can top up monthly. In Lyon this was a TCL card which could be topped up monthly and then gave you access to all busses, trams and metros in the city (sauf the Rhône Express).
    • In Lyon the Rhône Express will take you straight from the airport to Part-Dieu (one of Lyon’s main stations). Transport is something else that should be planned ahead to save getting lost and having to splash out on a taxi.
    • When taking public transport always be alert, particularly for pickpockets. 
    • In cities such as Lyon cycling is very popular and an easy way to get around. Bikes can be rented from various stops- you could even give a Segway a try.

    Food

    • For any vegetarians (like myself) or vegans it’s a good idea to look up places to eat beforehand. Some cities might offer more veggie friendly options than others. There are certain apps that will recommend restaurants too. Although Lyon is known for its gastronomy it is mostly meat based meals that are popular so at times finding places to eat out could be a struggle. Recommendations from other vegetarians will come in handy too.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask if a dish can be made veggie or vegan friendly.
    • Prepping and cooking your own meals in advance will also come in handy and may save you some money.
    • In France, regarding the baguette and bread in general, you will find your favourite boulangerie and nothing will sway you from it.

    Everyday life

    • Look up whether your chosen university offers a buddy system. I did not know about this but it came in very handy for a fellow student. Your “buddy” will show you the ropes and help you to settle into your new environment. 
    • Keep up to date with any Erasmus events as a way to to get to know other Erasmus students.
    • Keep yourself busy to deal with any homesickness- video chats with loved ones back home will also help.
    • Find things you enjoy and stick to them. 
    • Don’t be afraid to try new things and take opportunities as they come, but remember to stay aware of yourself and your surroundings and don’t push yourself to do things you aren’t comfortable with. Take things at your own pace.
    • Regarding health care, it’s a good idea to stock up on any meds you take regularly before you leave. However, there will be pharmacies to pick things up as needed and each will cater to your specific needs. For anything more serious a trip to the urgence may be needed. Also, make sure you are insured and have your EHIC card on hand.
    • Money wise, a Travel Money card is useful as you can load different currencies onto it to save yourself from having to use your normal card. There are different types offered by different companies so have a look around a see what is best for you.
    • A French phone SIM will come in handy but once again you will have to shop around for a deal that suits you.

    I hope these tips come in handy and if you have any more or think I’ve missed anything then add them in the comments, particularly for those studying in other countries or splitting their year! 

    Thanks for reading! More will be on its way soon!

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