1. Preparations and Goodbyes

1. Preparations and Goodbyes

This article was written by Amy Payne, published on 25th June 2012 and has been read 4316 times.

I thought it would be appropriate to begin my blog before I have left for Australia. Even though I am not yet in the country Sydney has taken over much of my waking thought. The necessary preparations for an entire year studying in another abroad are, as you can imagine, vast. From the large and obvious jobs, such as organising your Visa and flights, to smaller and perhaps easily forgettable tasks such as letting your bank know that you will be abroad or checking to see if you need any extra vaccinations; the list seems to be endless.
However, the main thing that I have learnt from this year and my gap year is that it really does pay to be organised well in advance. A couple of months ago I made sure that I had my flights booked, Visas organised, insurance paid for and accommodation sorted so that over the next few weeks before leaving, I could focus all my energy on enjoying time with my friends and family. These weeks are somewhat overwhelming and a clear head is needed to sort out those last minute details that in the emotion of leaving can be so easily overlooked. For those also preparing to go away I will outline a small list of these jobs at the end of the blog.

Unfortunately whilst the opportunity to study in Australia is something that I have been excited about since I began university, my last few weeks in the UK have been defined by a mixture of emotions including fear sadness, and doubt alongside the excitement. I believe this is completely normal as change of any sort is always connected with leaving something else behind. As expected saying goodbye to all those close to me has been painful, Australia is a very long way away! However, all of my friends and family have been so supportive and excited for me, so haven't let me wallow in the sadness of goodbyes for long. We have come up with many ways to keep in touch, all my housemates at uni plan to have big, group living room Skype sessions regularly and a few of them are planning on visiting me out there! My mum and I speak nearly every day when I'm away from home and we will definitely keep this up via Skype and email whilst I'm in Australia. I have a few friends who are graduating this summer and as Australia is pretty high on the destination list for travellers, I am expecting at least two or three of them to be kipping on my floor on their way up the East coast! Through this blog and through my Facebook, Insta-gram and twitter accounts I know that everyone at home will be kept up-to-date with my adventure and will probably be very jealous! I threw a leaving party last week for a load of my friends and family, it was such a great way to get everyone in the same room to say goodbye, but also to celebrate.

I have created a short film from that night, which includes some of their concerns and respective solutions as well as messages of luck:

Although saying goodbye to my friends here has been really tough I know that I am going to make a whole new set of friends in Sydney. In fact I have already began this process. Early on in my preparations for Australia I met Lydia through one of the pre-departure meetings organized by the Uni. Lydia an I are both studying politics and get on really well, so her friendship has was of great reassurance to me whilst going through all the important organization. In fact we have now booked our flights together and are getting very excited about planning a 4 days stop over in Hong Kong on the way there! A few weeks before the end of term in Exeter I e-mailed round to all other students studying in Sydney and the surrounding areas from Exeter. From the responses I organised a social meeting at one of our favourite local pubs. It was a gorgeous day and over a couple of pitchers of Pimms I got to know these girls and settled any nerves I had about being lonely in Sydney!

So, over the next few weeks I have to worry about how to fit entire year's worth of clothes into two small suitcases, get used to the idea of drinking schooners not pints and settle my parents nerves that I will not marry an Australian surfer within two months of arrival! This sounds like no small feat, but I am 100% sure that all the preparation will be worth it.

For those reading this who are also preparing to go away, here is a very small list of tasks that I very nearly forgot…

1. Go and see your dentist, you may not have a check up for another year!
2. Tell your bank you're going abroad, otherwise your card may be blocked when you arrive.
3. Decide if you're going to take one or more suitcases, work out the airlines policy on this and how much it is going to cost.
4. Are you going to keep a British phone running? This is useful to receive any messages from people who do not know you are abroad or have no other way of contacting you. I think the best way to do this is to put a chunk of credit on a pay-as-you-go phone and do not touch your British phone unless you have to when abroad. Buy a local SIM and compatible handset when you are there, this will function as your everyday phone.
5. Get some foreign currency, if you research in advance you can work out the best rates and perhaps order from sources I do not take a cut such as the post office.
6. Make sure all of your friends have your Skype username.
7. Make sure all your important mail is redirected to you. Especially if you have been in a Uni house or halls, the people living there next year do not want to receive your mail!
8. Stock up on your prescriptions, doctors will generally do you a years supply.
9. Check your passport and credit/debit cards don't run out when your there.
10. Set an alarm of some sort to remind you to reregister with your home uni, otherwise you may find you do not have a degree to go back to at the end of your year abroad… oh dear maybe you’ll just have to stay…!

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