Week 11: A Lesson on Life Abroad
Living abroad has been the most incredible, adventurous, crazy, scary time of my life…and so much more but I won’t get into all that yet. But it’s not all fun and games all the time (just most of the time), there are lots of things to consider when planning to live abroad.
Lesson One: Financials:
First things first – we’re going to cover the not so fun stuff. $$! It is really important to budget. When I was looking at all the different costs of living abroad all sorts of things come up that you don’t even think about. The best thing to do is sit down and do up a spreadsheet of all the different things and what they might cost you approximately. For example don’t forget to include food and regular living costs for things like toilet paper, food, laundry soap, ya know – all that fun stuff. You can always research the costs of living in the country you will be travelling to or ask friends and family for their thoughts on anything you might be forgetting. And if you happen to know anyone who had lived abroad they would be a great place to start! One thing my parents continued to tell me over and over again is that “when you travel you should always “expect unexpected costs”…of course they turned out to be very right (I’m sure they’re just loving this). So make sure to consider those unexpected costs as much as possible, you can’t always be prepared for all of it but do acknowledge it when planning and budgeting. Also ensure you have all your credit/debit cards sorted before you leave because you don’t want to be calling your bank from across the world with issues. It is also always a good idea to have a backup credit card.
A few things to consider when budgeting:
- Health Insurance (maybe multiple)
- Phone plan (betcha didn’t think of that one)
- Monthly food costs
- School supplies (if applicable)
- Text books
- Transportation (to and from airports, can be expensive if you live outside of the city)
- Spending money (clothes, souvenirs, social outings etc.)
Lesson Two: Culture:
Culture is an amazing thing but it can also be difficult to adjust to. Culture shock can occur and be a huge obstacle for many to overcome (I have discussed culture shock previously in “Week 9: Being an International Student”, so if you would like to read a little bit about it visit week 9). Just like with financials you can jump on the internet or buy a few books on your country to learn about the culture and the way they do things. It really depends on the country, you may find that things are very similar to your home country in many ways but it is still a good idea to look into it just to be prepared for any differences that you may not be used to. When you arrive I 100% recommend that you immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of your new home. Doing this will help you get settled in and really experience the way of life there. You will find yourself in love with the culture and everything to do with it in no time.
Lesson Three: Meeting new people:
One of the things that has made my experience abroad so wonderful is the amazing people I have met and the friends I have made. You have to be willing to put yourself out there in order to meet new people. I know it isn’t always easy to make friends in the beginning but it will never happen if you don’t try. Just go for it! There will always be other people in the same situation and I am sure they would appreciate it if you reached out to them. In my case I met all my friends through my roommate. I was very lucky and had a super sweet roommate who invited me out to meet some people. In cases like this take advantage and accept the offer!! This is a great way to meet people and make friends. You should also participate in any school (or community) events you find that interest you. I know that meeting new people and making a whole new group of friends in a completely new country can be super scary but I promise if you put yourself out there and make an effort you will thank yourself.
Lesson Four: Making the most of your time:
Another part of making your time abroad the best it can be is to get out and do stuff!! Travel, explore!! Go experience that beautiful country you came to see!! You have plenty of time in your life to watch Netflix and scroll through Twitter. When you’re living in another country take every second you can to see as much as possible and soak in every last beautiful moment. Go out with your friends, participate in local festivals or events! There is always something you can do to make the most of your time! Please, for me do not spend your time abroad locked up in your bedroom sleeping, we sleep when we’re dead people so get out there and enjoy every second!!!