Sunday, 9 August 2015

10 Tips to Survive Studying Abroad

My year abroad in Madrid recently came to an end and what a brilliant year I had! So, as an excuse for me to reminisce on the amazing company, all the good times and the yummy Spanish tapas, here's a post to (hopefully) help some of you out that are jetting off to start your own adventures. This one is going to be quite a long one, so as they say grab a cuppa and get stuck in!

1.Be Prepared
OK, so I know I sounds like a worried Mother here but being as prepared as you can be is really going to help you out. It's probably pretty obvious but print off every form you need to before you leave, check year round temperatures and pack for them, take out insurance, find out the ideal location to live in, see if Student Finance or your university do any extra grants or can help you out...The list is endless but the worst thing is getting into a new place and excitement turning into stress because you could have been more prepared. The more you prepare, the more you can enjoy your first couple of 'holiday' weeks when you get there. So get all the boring stuff out the way as soon as you can and then you have ages to relax!

2.Don't Panic
There is going to be so many people in the same situation as you, so there will always be somebody you can relate to. I was so worried when I left, but with so many people in the same boat as you it's easier to make friends because doesn't everyone want friends when they're in this situation? It can be hard to get your bearings too, but there's always people to ask for directions and we all know how much of a life saver Google Maps can be!

3.Soak in the Culture
Whether you take this as learning the language, eating the country's well known foods, going to bars and clubs that you won't find tourists in, going to football matches or going to local carnivals and celebrations. You will have so much fun discovering new foods, living life like the locals and living in a completely different part of the world. I would recommend to learn as much of the local language as you can. I thought that by now I would know fluent Spanish. I don't, but I do know enough to get by e.g. to ask for directions, to understand restaurant menus, to ask for things in shops etc. I do wish that I had learnt more whilst I was out there, however I plan to take up Spanish lessons again very soon.

4.Find the Right Balance
Your year abroad is obviously a time to have loads of fun but I found it really hard to shake out of holiday mode. The first couple of weeks was just like a holiday and it was great! But making sure you manage your money whilst being in a foreign country is important. You have to be willing to part with a fair bit of money if you want to have a great time, but also to try and budget as well as you can or cut back on things that aren't necessary. Also, remember that you are there to study and to make sure that you don't throw that down the fan whilst having a whale of a time. 

5.Don't Compare
Comparing my year with others was the worst thing I did. Everyone works differently, everyone enjoys different things and everyone's year abroad will be different to yours. Some people will find a house before they get there, as others (like me) will stay in a hostel for the first week and look for a house then. Others will travel everywhere, others will spend money on physical objects. Some might make loads of international friends where as others might struggle. Some will spend all their time socialising, going out and not going to university, others will find the right balance. We all know that comparing yourself to others is never going to help anyones state of mind, so just do what makes you happy with your year and ignore what everyone else is doing!

6.Learn Some New Skills
Because my university workload and schedule was less than ever before, I had time to learn a couple of new things and make use of the people around me. I improved composition and editing skills and these will definitely help me with my course next year. I also took some graphic design and some fine art modules-things that I never thought I would be doing at university. It definitely made my year more interesting and has also given me a wider range of interests and skills!

7.Make A Bucket List
Making a bucket list for my year was a life saver! I put on it things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go and things I wanted to see. These meant that if ever I was bored I had a list to refer to of things to keep me busy, or if I had a couple of free days I could book flights to somewhere. It also means that you can plan things and make enough time to cram everything in!

8.Don't Expect too Much
If you expect too much, you will only ever be disappointed. Try not to have any expectations of what your year is going to be like. If you take everything as it comes and enjoy every second you have you won't be disappointed. Also, don't feel like you have to jam pack every day full of plans, because you will drain yourself of all energy. It's fine to have days where you sit in and do nothing other than uni work and catch up on your favourite TV series. 

One of the things I love the most about my year abroad was having the time to travel. I visited Morocco and Portugal for the first time, I went to Bremen in Germany for the Christmas Markets and also to Barcelona. I would have loved to go on more trips but unfortunately money isn't never ending. However I am so glad I got to go on the trips that I did, and I certainly wouldn't have been able to do this if I had gone straight into third year. Travelling really is a must on your year abroad, where ever you are there will be somewhere that will interest you that you can get to cheaply!

10.Have Fun & Make Memories
And finally the most important one- have fun! Have a blast, a whale of a time, paint the town red and do whatever the hell is going to make you happy. You really will make so many memories that you will forever wish that you could re-live, you will make new friends that you will form a close bond with because you've all been in it together. And most importantly you will learn so much about yourself. 

A study year abroad is so much more than just going to university, in fact the lectures and the work is a tiny fraction of what you will have to deal with on the grand scheme of things, but (i hope) you will find your year worth taking out. I hope you have enjoyed this post and I haven't scared you away from the idea, but I honestly had the time of my life and I hope you do too!

Are you taking a year abroad? Where abouts are you going? What are you most looking forward to and what are you most worried about?

Sam xx

Apart from the first photograph in this post, all were taken by myself.


  1. It must have been such a great experience studying abroad for a year. These look like really good tips for somebody who is about too!

    The Velvet Black | UK Style & Beauty Blog

  2. That's a good look! ;)
    Have a nice weekend :)

    I follow you!
    If you comment my two posts, I will comment your five posts! :)

  3. Awesome post dear! I was an exchange student to LA last year and completely relate to your tips! Having fun is the most important one! :)

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you can relate to them. I 100% agree with you, having fun is definitely the most important one.

  4. Some great tips and sounds like an amazing experience! I think I can get the opportunity to study abroad, so i'm super excited for that! xx

    1. Thankyou- it really was! You should definitely do it. It's better to try something and not like it to have never tried it at all.

  5. I studied aboard for a few months, and I had the greatest time.
    Good tips - thanks for sharing.

    Jenn | Jennifer Jayne

    1. I'm glad you had a great time. Thank you and you're welcome

  6. I plan to study aboard next year in Germany. Your tips are very helpful for me. Thank you so much. Inflatable Mattress Review at

  7. great tips especially #10 make memories i love that term :)

    Nique ||

  8. Oh nice post and outfit :D

  9. I love your tips and really want to study abroad in a few years time!
    Peace xo

  10. Great post, sounds like you had an amazing time! My friend is going on her year abroad next month so I'll definitely direct her to this post. Thanks so much for your sweet comment on my blog XX

  11. Sounds like an amazing experience and a truly fantastic time.

    Jenn | Jennifer Jayne

  12. Great post

    Love Vikee

  13. This was big help!! Xx

  14. Darling, I like your blog and this post very much! I like your style of writing and your photos! Everything is so beautiful!

    Diana Cloudlet

  15. You have great blog. I follow you :)
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