Well, you've got your degree, and perhaps your masters too, but still you want more. This time, it involves studying abroad . Lucky you! You know it'll be a wonderful experience, but right now, you're a bit apprehensive. Planning ahead should see off any potential problems, so don't put it off!
What to Choose Just as you would in the UK, you'll need to consider living arrangements well in advance. Halls of residence could be the easiest option, initially at least, although you probably had your fill as an undergraduate! Having moved on from those days long ago, you may prefer your own space this time around. Don't rule out sharing, though, as it would allow you to pool expenses, as well as providing on-site company and support to call on when required.
How To Choose?
Many UK colleges and universities have lists of accommodation abroad, or you could contact your chosen university. The British Council website has links to relevant sites, where you can also read useful advice and tips from other students. Blogs are always a good source of information. In addition to sharing their lodging tales, bloggers can fill you in on culture, customs, language, and of course, the all-important social life. Closer to home at your own university, seek out other students with experience of living overseas.
Where To Look Location is an important factor, but one that may be easier to settle once you're there. It can be useful to opt for temporary accommodation at first, perhaps in a hostel. Get to know the area before you commit yourself to a long-term agreement. Do you want to be near the university, or anywhere else that you'll have to visit regularly? Is it close to shops, amenities and public transport? Does safety at night concern you?
Having researched these points, if you expect to be based in a large city, consider retreating to the suburbs on a cheaper rent. Most European cities have extensive and low-priced transport systems that run late, so you wouldn't feel isolated.
Homestays Do you fancy family life? It's true that some people find the idea daunting - after years of independence, it can seem like a step backwards. However, it would hone your language skills, and enable you to immerse yourself in the life of the country. Free advice, help, and expert local knowledge are only a few yards away! Just remember that it's a challenge for your hosts, too. They have to get used to a stranger in their midst; and who knows, you might remind them of the complexities of having young people around!
Swap Shop Swapping with other students who are on the move could be an interesting alternative. UNICA (Network of Universities from the Capitals of Europe) sets out this, and other ideas, on its website, with links to external sites.
Once you have the practical details sorted, you can relax and start looking forward to your stay abroad!
Useful Links Fresh Student Living: UK Student Accommodation
Study in Europe
Studying abroad: how to get a visa
Postgraduate study in America
8 simple ways to make friends at uni