So, you’ve got your offer to study abroad, but you’re not too sure whether or not to accept? Here are some seemingly obvious but often overlooked questions that you can ask yourself to help you decide whether or not a year abroad is really for you:
Can I afford it?
While Erasmus grants, student loans and careful saving are more than useful in affording a year abroad, sometimes it just doesn’t cover it. The excitement of living half way across the world can take over, and you might forget to factor in things like flights home at Christmas (if you want to go home, that is!), costs of travelling around your new home, rent while you’re away (which depending where you are can be sky high), and any other higher living expenses. It might be worth having a look at putting some money away now, or just start thinking about how you’re going to afford certain things. That being said, some year abroad destinations have even cheaper living costs than Leeds – so just do your research.
Am I prepared for it?
Yep, it all looks great on Instagram (#leedsuniabroad), but are you really prepared for the less Instagramable side of things? A year away from home is a very psychologically demanding reality, and while you’re more than likely to make fantastic friends while you’re away, it can be a very lonely and very isolating time. You need to be prepared to put yourself out there and try really hard with your new environment to make it work.
Apart from missing people from home, also think about any culture shocks that you might encounter. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that an English-speaking country won’t throw up any cultural difference – this will not be the case. For an insight of the potential cultural differences, have a look at blogs people in the place(s) you’re interested in have written and take some of their tips on board.
Am I happy with my offer?
You might feel inclined to accept an offer you receive literally just because it’s an offer. Make sure that you’ve done enough research into the University you’ll be joining, the area you’ll be living in and the things that place offers. Imagine moving half way across the world to discover its actually nothing like you imagined and you have to spend a whole 9 months there. Try and research things just like you will have done about Leeds before you came.
So basically, if you want to do it, go for it, but be pragmatic and proactive with your decision. If you’re mentally and physically prepared, you’re sure to have an amazing character-building experience that will look good on your CV, too. If you’re not 100% in it though, there’s a chance that you won’t fully engage with your time away and won’t get the things out of it that you could.
By Charlotte Peet