Phil's Year Abroad Prep: Chapter 1
Passport photos by roxeteer
Phil Richards gives his preparation plans a few months before YA-Day (Year Abroad day) and shares his worries, tips and advice about his upcoming year abroad...Oh crikey. It’s already May. My Year Abroad starts in 5 weeks (capital letters to denote importance of said event). There’s a lot to fit in around revision, exams, moving out of my flat and attempting to enjoy this weather. A way to organise/calm it all down a bit? I like lists. They give the illusion of being organised even if you’re not feeling it. So I’ve put together a list called the ‘ohmygodimabouttoleavethecountryandhavenoideawhereimsupposedtostart’ list (working title):
On everything. If your address for anything is registered at your uni address, change it to one someone will be able to access while you’re away. From the more obvious ones, like my driving licence, student finance and bank, to the more obscure ones like my Boots Advantage Card and Tesco Clubcard (I don’t want to miss out on my coupons!), I’m currently making sure I’m getting my post redirected. Changing address also gives a nosy relative/friend the opportunity to open your mail while you’re away. My Nan can’t wait.
I am in the process of photocopying all important documents. Lots of times. I’m giving my Nan a copy of it all so she can reel off my passport number should I, in some sort of James Bond-esque twist to my year abroad, become embroiled in some sort of high profile international diplomatic disaster (or, more likely, lose my documents). I’ll also take a copy with me - rather safe than sorry! This applies to your birth certificate and driving licence as you never know when you’re going to need them.
Passport photos for your new student card, railcard, CV, or whatever else they’ll come in handy for. This will save me the horror of having to pay €11 again when desperately searching for a photo booth. I don’t just want to take photos of me, though. I want to take pictures of friends and family and have paper copies of them with me when I go away. It’ll make my room homely to have them on display.
European Health Insurance Card. Very important. Not if you’re going to outer Mongolia but if your travels are restricted to Europe, this may come in handy. However, it won’t cover you for everything on the continent and different countries have varying levels of cover but essential to have with you just in case...Research what the EHIC covers you for and where though you should buy separate health insurance if necessary. Depending on where you go, you may come back with a new-found love for the ease and availability of the NHS. I’ve managed to lose my EHIC so have ordered a new one. It *should* come through quite quickly and a tip for those who don’t like queues: you can order it online. Sorted.
Buy English stuff
Cadbury’s chocolate. Marmite. Tea bags. Gravy granules. I never cease to be amazed and disgusted at foreigners claiming that the English have no culinary delights (this was said to me by several hot-dog-sausage-eating, cabbage-dunking-in-vinegar Germans on my last trip to Germany) so I am now going to go prepared with recipes. Cook a roast, cook cottage pie, remind them where sandwiches come from, bake scones, bake a sponge cake. Not in an arrogant, we’re-better-than-you-in-the-kitchen kind of way (which would be a foolish way to approach any Italian, Spaniard, Frenchie, Greek...), but more like a cultural exchange. You give me baguette, I give you pickle etc. Disclaimer: Some German food is lovely. Kaiserbraten and Apfelstrudel are among my favourites.
I’ve pencilled in time to see all friends and relatives before I go. I may even have a bon voyage party. It’s a pretty good excuse for a party especially as I intend to remind my friends that I won’t be around for them to buy me a birthday drink in September. It should mean a cheap night for me!
I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing with each of these things in due course and I will obviously be 100% ready for my Year Abroad when I leave the country on 1st June *fervently touches wood*.