9 tried-and-tested year abroad tips
1. Carry around a notebook with you at all times. If you don’t know a word, write it down and look it up later. Unless you are this guy, it is virtually impossible to eternally remember a word or expression by hearing it just once.
2. Don’t take your big dictionary - Word Reference or CollinsDictionary.com is all you need. That 20kg is sacred!
3. Memrise is a great way to learn vocabulary. You can create your own wordlists, use the wordlists of others, and the horticulturally-themed exercises make vocabulary really stick in your head.
4. Keep on top of what’s going on in your city. Make sure you’re not at home when there’s something hugely unique going on outside (or maybe stuff that’s not so unique.) What’s more, if you look for it, a lot is free.
5. To quote my Spanish lecturer: “your language learning will not flow into you like the wine as you lie on the beach.” It’s pretty much a given that your speaking and listening abilities will improve dramatically, but don’t let your writing skills slip (easier said than done.) Then again, your year away is one of the easiest times to embrace the language - tandem partners (writing as well as speaking), translations of adverts in magazines, watching foreign television; at times it does feel like your language intake is like osmosis.
6. Say yes.
7. You can sleep when you are in England and it is raining outside. Even though you might be tired, have a nap or an energy drink. This may sound a bit arrogant, and it is easier said than done, but if you realise what you could be missing out on when you are staring at the inside if your eyelids then you’ll make the most of your time.
8. Even though you may have spent solid hours carefully thinking about the location of your year abroad, don’t just stay in that village/town/city. Everyone is eligible for a loan and (if in Europe) a handsome Erasmus grant, so start contributing to their economy and spend some money! Find out when public holidays are and research the bus/train/plane options. For flights, skyscanner is a good place to start...
9. Don’t let distance be an issue. The British university system is very unique in comparison to other countries, in that we are loaned money to attend university to then pay it back once we start earning. Student Finance helps you on your year abroad, covering costs that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter if you were still at your home university. One example is the travel grant where Student Finance will pay for up to 3 return journeys home, minus the initial £303. So the world is your £303 oyster.