Anna's Year Abroad Prep: Packing and living arrangements
Mons by ines saraiva
Anna came to England when she was 16 thanks to her German exchange. She decided to stay and is currently studying Translation with French and Spanish. She is currently planning her second year abroad, spending 5 months working in Mons, Belgium and another 5 months studying in Granada in Spain. Here, she lets us know how she's doing...I have to admit, that I think I have been very, very lucky with my placements. I study two languages and am therefore going to go on two placements in one year. One is a work placement in a translation agency in Mons, Belgium and then a study placement in Granada, Spain. Both are exactly what I wanted to do; even though my work placement is unpaid, while probably make life a little harder, I’m sure it will give me the chance of going to a country I haven’t been to before, immerse myself in the culture and hopefully get a foot in the door of the sector I want to work in once I graduate.
I am not very far into planning my year abroad, I still have exams to deal with and a holiday to go on before (a big yay for holidays and not having to start a placement immediately after exams!), but as I already went on a year abroad when I was 16, I am now quite sure about some of the things I want to do this time.
I kept a diary back then, which is a great way to remember your year abroad, even if you’re not much of a writer. Just a few sentences to outline your day or a funny quote will make looking back on it so much more fun.
What I am planning to do this year is taking at least one photo a day, so I can have some sort of photographic diary to help look back on my time abroad, I think it will keep the memories alive for so much longer and help me remember exact details that I might otherwise forget. So, I am going to turn into a photo-taking monster in Mons (see what I did there?)? Only time will tell. I hope to capture the little things and how familiar this strange, foreign town will have felt at some point.
To make packing a little easier, I have given in to advertising and am buying an e-reader. I think I will struggle with luggage as it is, so taking away the problem of sorting through books and taking only a few has been resolved. I’ll now be able to take everything I need and not have to worry about extra weight. I’ll also be able to buy loads more, in English as well as French and Spanish, making my immersion a little easier, as well as lonely nights a little less solitary.
I am still in the process of looking for a flat, but vivastreet.be is a great Belgium-based website that has really helped me, even though I might not rent from there, it was easy way to find out what prices I will have to expect for different types of apartments. A fantastic website to find a room in a shared house is appartager.be, which is free to use, as opposed to some other flatshare websites that make you pay. You can pay to use a premium service with a few added extras (for quite reasonable rates, such as 6.90 euros for 3 days - prices get cheaper the longer you subscribe for), like being able to view telephone numbers and not having to email but I have found that most landlords have premium accounts, so you are able to contact them without having to sign up as well.
That’s it for my first entry, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted on the rest of my prep!