How to Survive Studying Abroad

Kaylah Hunter,
University of Mannheim, Germany
Semester 2, 2017

To go overseas and study abroad can sound like a daunting thing to experience, especially if you’ve never been overseas before and it is a long time to be away from home. I will admit, it is challenging and it can be tough, but it is honestly one of the best experiences you will have in your life.
I’ve decided to write some tips and tricks that I have found to be useful or I think would be helpful for people to know, along with some don’ts.

TIPS

  • Go to all the introductory activities. It’s where you’ll meet other people who are in the same boat as you and where you’ll make friends!
  • Try to know the basics of the language where your host university is or at the least have a phrasebook/phrase app. It’ll make asking for help and trying to get around 10 times easier
  • Pack an internet router or plan to buy one when you land. I didn’t know I needed one for my room so I was stuck doing a 7pm run to the supermarket to find one
  • When crossing the road in a country that drives on the right, look left first before you cross. It sounds simple enough but it’s a very helpful habit to develop quickly
  • In Germany (at least) they use 24 hour time. So learn it quickly or you’ll forget that 1:30 is 1:30am and not 1:30pm and end up missing a bus to Lichtenstein
  • Be social! Yes it is okay to be shy and it can be a bit nerve wracking to try and make new friends but it is essential to studying abroad. And you’ll find that everyone else is feeling the same way!

DON’T

  • Assume everyone knows English. Lots of people don’t.
  • Ditch class. Some universities have a rule that if you miss more than two classes, you automatically fail even if you pass everything else
  • Buy the first ticket to go to France from wherever you are. Do some research and you’ll find that you can do some mass saving when traveling. For example, yes the bus may take an hour longer than the train but if you can save yourself 30 Euros that’s a bonus.
  • Sit around waiting for people from home to message you. Get out and about, explore the city you’re in and enjoy it!
  • Say no: some of the best things come from saying yes, even if you think you might not like the activity.

These are some little things I have found useful in my time in Germany or little things I think would be helpful to others, usually lessons learned from my own mistakes!