There are many myths and expectations regarding a year abroad. Indeed, studying in a different country can be the perfect time to reinvent yourself, explore a new culture and of course, develop as an individual. However, take into consideration that the initial excitement hides the countless challenges that arise as an exchange student. If you need to undertake time abroad as part of your degree then keep reading to find out the best tips to settle during a university year abroad.

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1. Back to basics

Undoubtedly, the first month of your year abroad is the toughest. In fact, it’s comparable to be a fresher again because in between getting to know new students and living your Parisian cafe dream; reality hits- hard. Think about it; you have to learn how to adult in a whole new country. This includes everything from negotiating transportation to working out where to do your grocery shopping. For example, the closest store might not be the most convenient in relation to quality and price.

Likewise, for those living in a big European city, chances are that you would need to get acquainted with public transport. The good news is that as a student, you might be eligible for discounts. For example, in Lisbon, a monthly pass with the Navegante card costs just 30 euros and allows to use the local public transport as often as needed for a month.

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2. Learn the local language

Following on, if you are studying in a non-English speaking country then it’s a good idea to try and learn the local language. Of course, most people will understand some English but even learning the basics will help. What’s more, making the effort to learn the local language will impress the locals and help make friends and could even come in handy in the unlikely case of an emergency. Therefore, if your host university offers language courses then go for it.

What people don't tell you about a year abroad: the best tips for settling in

3. We all have those days…

Contrary to what you might have seen online, a university year abroad is not a constant party. Although there will be moments where you will have the time of your life, this is only a fraction of what really occurs. Chances are you will spend more time in the library studying or having an existential crisis (or both simultaneously.) You should expect moments where you are left pondering why fate brought you on the other side of Europe. Ultimately a University year abroad will turn you into a much stronger and independent  individual.

What people don't tell you about a year abroad: the best tips for settling in

4. Expect to go out your comfort zone

Likewise, you should expect to expand your comfort zone on your year abroad- A lot. From accidents to misunderstandings with the locals;  you will face countless situations that makes you feel more like you are the protagonist of a video game solving a puzzle to go to the next level  rather than just a simple student. Ultimately, there’s a solid reason why employers value student who underwent a year abroad..

5 Just embrace the novelty

Last but not least, our final tip to help you settle in to your the year abroad is to really embrace the changes.That includes the change of scenery, the change of language and the change of culture. In the first week, try to sign up to  as many events as possible and explore your new home for the semester. Although, you are abroad to study, consider this opportunity as a breather.

What people don't tell you about a year abroad: the best tips for settling in

Curious to study abroad? Check our article about 5 countries you can study your masters degree abroad for free and check out these English speaking universities in Europe!