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Hello, World – Get the most out of your stay abroad

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I remember what my host family said to me when I first arrived in Dublin. “You come here to do your internship although you don’t know anyone in Dublin? Wow, you’re so brave.” I was quite surprised by this reaction. I mean, that’s why you go abroad, right? To explore a new country, meet new people and maybe learn a new language. Here is some advice on how to survive studying or doing an internship abroad.

  1. Have a basic knowledge of the language of the country you are going to or have at least a decent level of English.

Now, I know that for many the whole point of going abroad is to learn a language, however, you probably also want to make new friends or actually talk to people which is going to be difficult if you don’t have the vocabulary to express yourself.

Knowing English is probably always useful wherever you go. When you are in an English – speaking country, all the better. It’s better to hang out with Native speakers to improve your language skills but even when you study in another country like, like let’s say Germany and want to make international friends, it would be highly beneficial to speak some English. I have many international friends back in Germany  and noticed that they prefer communicating in English with each other (although they probably should really speak in German).

  1. Prepare for the country’s weather conditions.

It seems like a logical thing and not worth pointing out but you don’t want to spend your money on new clothes if you can spend it on cocktails and drinks – or food.

I posted my things when I went to Dublin but they didn’t arrive in time and when they finally did, I realised that my parents had taken out my umbrella, my scarf and some of my warm clothes because the package was too heavy.

      3. Flying is probably the cheapest way (if you choose to fly with one of these budget airlines) to get to your     new destination. But if you are not familiar with the airport or how to get there, however tempting the price may be, don’t take the flights that are early in the morning. My worst experience was getting lost, trying to find the bus stops to Luton airport at night. Yes, I couldn’t use Google Maps because I had left my English SIM card at home. I did find the bus stop in the end after a drunk person showed me the way.

  1. Hang out with natives and decide where you want to live

To learn the language and about the culture of the country. Decide if you want to live in student halls (ideal, loads of native speakers around), host family (cool, but no parties in the flat and showering at night) or in a house share (amazing if you end up with the right people. Many houses around universities on the private market, however, will be rented by international students which is great but you may want to consider this if you want to speak a particular language on a daily basis).

Another thing you might want to consider is looking up if there is a bus stop near your accommodation and how regularly there is a bus service in advance or you will end up like me having to climb a hill to get to university or nearly dying in cycling accidents.

Take part in sports and other activities to meet new people. Many universities offer a wide spectrum of activities and organise social events.

  1. When enrolling for courses, keep in mind that you also want to do other things than studying. It’s probably not a good idea to start learning a new language besides the one you are going to speak in the country you staying. If you have to enrol in many courses, try to choose courses that don’t require you to write time-consuming essays and reading.

Now it’s time to say “hello, world” and off you go!

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Jenny Bui

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