Studying abroad isn’t an easy decision to make. Such a drastic change of culture, way of living, and familiarizing with a different language isn’t appealing to everyone. But you’ve been approved, you’ve mentally prepared for the big leap – you’ve done half the hard work already.
Don’t get too comfortable yet, though. You’ve got a lot of preparing to do that goes beyond just packing your bags and turning up. The likelihood is that you won’t have much time to make essential arrangements when you’re there – you’ve got lectures and some actual studying to do, remember?
Of course, you can only do so much before leaving anyway, since you’re stepping into the unknown. But there’s a lot you can do to make life easier for when you arrive. Keep reading for a few tips on how to settle into your new city quickly.
Have Your Accommodation Arranged Before Arriving
This might seem like a no-brainer, but a certain person – who may or may not have written this article – moved to Amsterdam with nothing but a few nights booked in a hotel. It’s a level of stress no one can be doing with, and it could’ve been avoided with a little bit more planning; okay, any planning at all.
As a student, it’ll be somewhat easier to source accommodation than if you’re trying to find a room share without being there to meet the other tenants. Your university will have resources available on the website to help new students find their accommodation.
Find A Job Or A Way To Volunteer Through Uni
Having a job is a way to make friends that are most likely from the city or have lived there for some time. These new colleagues-cum-friends can give you a fast track to understanding the place, to do as the locals do, so to speak. Plus, you’re likely gonna need some money coming in anyway, right?
Universities always have a ton of clubs you can join, or events that need students to volunteer at. This is the best way to make friends with fellow students that share your mutual interests. Movie buffs might like to help out at a student-run film festival, for example.
Plus, it’s a way to meet people that aren’t on your course, or other students you live with. You might be able to figure out your new city together, too.
Take The Time To Get Familiar With Your New City
As the first year of Uni goes on, you’ll probably be overwhelmed with exams and other dreaded forms of academia. The sooner you can get on the country’s frequency the better. Treat your initial time there like a tourist would but with less time there than you do.
Cram in as much as possible – go to museums, check out the nightlife, find your favorite spots for downtime and getting some grub. Even just taking a long walk every other night and learning your way around will go a long way. Another important thing would be to find out how the local transport works, the ways to get to where you need to, like to uni, and how to get back home again.
Don’t Hole Up In Your Room
You might’ve made a big step by moving, but you certainly didn’t do it just to stay within the same four walls, right? Even if you have to study, try to do it at the library or a cafe across town. You might be settling into your room quickly but you’re not learning anything about your new city while you’re doing it.
Look, we all should do absolutely nothing once in a while – in fact, it’s something we need to recharge. Watching garbage on TV and staying in bed for the full day is good for us in small doses. Just don’t make it a habit – the world keeps turning without you, and it could hinder your chances of actually enjoying your new life.
We should all do something that scares us once in a while, but please don’t say yes to absolutely everything people ask you to do – this somewhat harmless suggestion might become a dangerous one real fast. Something you need to remind yourself of, though, is that nearly all other first years are in the same boat as you.
If the others on your course want to break the ice with a day out at the park or by going to a gig – why not say yes? Maybe your closest thing to a friend so far wants to hang out after uni – what have you got to lose by committing? Bear in mind that you’ll quickly get left out if people’s invitations are always met with rejection.
Making Your New Bank Account A Priority
You probably won’t be able to handle this without being on the ground, but it should be something that’s on the itinerary for the first few days of being there. You certainly shouldn’t put it on the later-base, that’s for sure. Otherwise, you’ll end up like that Amsterdam ex-pat mentioned above, using a foreign bank account and hiking up massive charges for a couple of months.
One thing you can do from home is set up an appointment with the bank. Cities with a lot of international immigrants, especially with huge student communities, might have a backlog.
Commit To Learning The Language
Some countries are a lot easier to get by without learning the language than others, that’s a given. Studying in the Netherlands is very different from studying in South Korea, for example. For some people, it depends whether or not you’re interested in staying after the course has finished.
Getting a basic grasp at the very least is not only good for fitting in and getting by, but it’s also polite to the locals to at least try to communicate with their local tongue. Your city might offer free courses or maybe your university does.
Anyone that wants to know how to learn a language fast needs only perform a rudimentary Google search to find an abundance of tools they can use to at least make a start.