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Tips for your first few weeks as a student abroad

Tips for your first few weeks as a student abroad

The beginning of the semester is sometimes frustrating when it comes to getting used to your new schedule, lecturers and courses. As a student in a foreign country, the challenges are even bigger because of the whole new environment and major life changes that you will be experiencing. But don’t worry - there are a lot of ways to make your first few weeks a whole lot easier and far more enjoyable than you may have thought! Let’s find out how!

1. Use Facebook to connect with your future colleagues

This is especially useful for the time before you leave your home country. Within a 5-minute search you can look for a freshly created group for your subject or other people that will be starting their studies at the same university. By connecting, you will find more information about several important aspects such as starting dates, study timetables or maybe even answers to questions that aren’t available on the official university website. Of course, there is also the opportunity to make a few friends beforehand and get to know the people who you will be spending the next semesters together with. If you still haven’t found an accommodation, you can receive great tips or even look for a shared apartment with your new connections.  

2. Fully explore your university campus

One of the best ways to get used to your new environment is to start exploring it. By spending a little bit time scouting around your campus area, you will quickly find some of the locations where you will be spending most of your time – the library, cafeteria, printing center and last but not least, the different administrative offices. Getting to know the surroundings of your dormitory is also advisable, as it is convenient to know where the nearest shops, sport centers, cafés and clubs are. Make sure you plan a few exploration days before the semester begins.

3. Prepare your to-do list

Upon arrival, you will most probably have a bundle of tasks waiting to be completed – documents, registrations, etc. Plan ahead and make sure you take care of the financial and documental aspects of your study first. Make sure to open a bank account in order to safely operate with your money and easily organize your payments. Think about your necessities even if you are in a dormitory, as in some cases you might not have internet connection or cable TV. Don’t forget to take into account your costs for food, laundry and transport/library card and quickly try to sum up a monthly budget and some savings. 

4. Sign up for student activities

Without a doubt, during your introduction period you will have more free time than usual. And after you get used to your area and make a few new friends, you can start filling your schedule with other activities such as practicing sport, visiting a study club or participating in the student union. In most cases you can find information about these opportunities at the official university website, social media and other internet sources or simply ask your lecturers or fellows. Who knows, you might even end up playing for the local football team, developing a research project in Sociology or/and becoming chairman of the student union by the end of the year! 

5. Go around the town or the city 

Once you start feeling more comfortable within the foreign environment, you can easily have a look around the other parts of the town. If you are in a bigger city, start with the center and the more lively parts where you will be able to find different sightings, monuments and cultural heritage. More like a tourist than a student, this will give you an insight of the country and an opportunity to think about your expectations. In addition, you will gain experience when using the public transport and memorize the different shopping centers, cinemas, museums or other areas of interest that you would like to visit later alone or with friends. 

6. Find people who you can count on 

Having friends is one of the biggest advantages you can have during your student years. It is easier to go through a stressful exam period with friends who will be willing to work together with you and share all kinds of helpful knowledge, information and materials one of you might have missed out. And of course, let’s not forget about all the pleasant moments you will spend together at parties, the deep talks about the philosophy of life or the cozy Monopoly evenings at the dormitory. In one of these scenarios you may even find the love of your life!

7. Think about finding a student job

The first few weeks are a good time to consider your chances of working. Alone or together with your colleagues, you can just browse the local job-offering websites or visit the university career center. Don’t search for something too fancy, as you will also have to balance your student activities and find some free time for yourself. Depending on your views and needs, you can concentrate on finding an internship for more experience or settling as a bartender for some extra money  every month. Ask your academics about any “work in industry” opportunities that your course might be offering or contact student organizations such as AIESEC or EU networks such as Erasmus. 

8. Make the most out of your time

In general, there is nothing more important than completing your studies with a smile and a sense of satisfaction. And to do this, you simply have to set up your priorities and always seek for your next achievement. Even if you haven’t been able to ace every single one of your exams or find the perfect student job, just think about the whole new country and culture that you have just discovered, your new friends, improved language skills and gained experience. With a positive mindset and a clear overview of your aims, you will always have a weapon in hand to battle any doubt or fear standing in the way of leaving a positive mark wherever you go.

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