Tips for Preparing to Study Abroad
Hi dear readers, I posted a lot, but forgot to share with you the first time I came to Munich. Just a general overview of what I feel it is important to do to prepare yourself for the studying abroad (mentally besides packing and finances) and what to do once you arrive: all the registration with University student services, authorities and finding a place to stay amongst others. So let me break it down.
Get your friends contact info: Before leaving home I made sure to tell all my friends who haven’t seen in a while that I will be going so I can say proper goodbyes as well as get heir contact info – mainly telephone numbers as well as e-mails – so I can stay in touch with them. With Internet practically everywhere, and in many places for free, I can talk and text them anytime I need to catch up on things after some time. No everybody has has smartphones and laptops and with free applications like Skype and Viber staying in touch has never been easier. There is also the option to buy a local SIM card in Germany (or whatever place you are studying) so you can talk for cheaper than having you phone number that you used while in your home country. It is cheaper and you can some nice deals for students.
Don’t take too many things: I recommend you pack light, don’t make the mistake of taking too much and dragging all the heavy luggage through all the airport terminals, taxis and buses and aeroplanes, when you will eventually buy whatever you need when you arrive. In Munich there are many flea markets where you can buy things relatively cheap and it beats having to carry 3 or 4 languages with you. Yep, I have seen people with THAT many stuff on them, it’s just crazy and not practical at all.
Have all the documents with you: Double check you have all the necessary documents in safe place. You have no idea how much headache has caused me to forget the registration paper of the dorm room and Germans being the way they are – call it precision or just bureaucratic nightmare – I couldn’t register for a room so the first night I spend at a cheap hostel. This turned out to be good in fact, because I now have found a place where I live by myself. Make sure you take all your documents that you will need to register for services in your University. It may sound obvious but we lose or forget something like I did, so just a friendly reminder not to make the same mistake as I did.
Be prepared with local things: Another thing to do is to get some local things, such as money and a dictionary. You don’t want to get stuck at the airport without Euro at nigh and no exchange in sight. Exchange money for Euro at your home city, so you have some money for the basics things such as transportation and food and drinks, before you settle at your place or at the dormitories. I recommend you take a dictionary and a map of the city as well as a map of local transportation (buses and metro: called U-Bahn in Germany). This way when your first few days will be easier to navigate through the city and know the schedule of local transportation as well as places you will have to go, like to your University to register with at the International Student Office and the authorities. You will have to check in with the Aliens Office and register your duration of stay and the purpose. You will have no problems since you are a student.
Learn the local language: A dictionary will help you if you by any chance miss a bus stop or two and get stuck at a place of the city that you don’t know much about and need to ask for directions. A better thing for you is to learn a basic German before leaving home, such as by going o a course or my favourite smartphone application: DUOLINGO. In a few weeks to a month I learned all the basic German words, as well as pronunciation and spelling. You will learn the language while you stay there, I mean you will be in contact with the locals in many places so just get the basics down and you will get better at it as times go s by. Just don’t forget to give it your best and try as much as you can to learn the language or you will come back home with little.
Prepare mentally: OK you will get homesick no matter how exited you are now of the prospect that you will be living in a different and new and exiting place. So a thing that works for me is to write down a list of the things that I chose to study abroad that far away from home and family and friends. That way whenever you will get a little homesick you have a good reminder to go on and not give up. Another aspect you will have to think about is how will you deal with your boyfriend or girlfriend if you are in a relationship. If you will stay just for one semester abroad as an exchange you will have it easier than those who stay longer. Long distance relationships are hard so before you leave home talk with you partner and maturely decide what will you do. Sometimes it is necessary and a better idea to give your relationship an end and not live with the illusion that few years are nothing and you will get back together again. Thing in the long run, it may turn for the best, you may meet a local girl or guy and hit it off and from there on form an unexpected great and wild relationship. So be open to new things and new people and you will be rewarded with great new experiences.
This is for the first part of the study abroad experience, it turned out longer since I had to say more than time permits, so that’s why I decided to divide this post into two parts so the second part will be about what to do and how to handle things when you arrive.