Student blog: Helen – “Just thought you ought to know”

The past weeks have been a blur (as is now becoming the norm), but I wanted to take a couple of minutes to fill you in on (some of) the things you ought to know before studying abroad- especially in second year!

  • Administration abroad is not necessarily what you’re used to; here there isn’t really a centralised hub of information, so use those friends on your course/lecturers/flatmates to check that you’re not missing out on something important.
  • Additionally, living together abroad is also not necessarily the same as what you’re used to. Going from a flat of 8 who (mostly) kept their doors open to a flat of 3 where the doors are pretty much always shut is quite a change. See where these friends come in again?
  • The first few weeks are tough. Make sure that you’re keeping in contact with people back home if you’re struggling with homesickness and/or mental health, whilst also trying to build a network of new friends here. You’ll need people to fall back on.
  • The workload in second year is a big step up from first year, even if you stay in Lancaster, so prepare to be (more than slightly) overwhelmed when you start the academic year.
  • Make time to travel- you (if you’re anything like me) do need to set aside time to travel. I can very easily get caught up with work and not give myself a break, but when you’re in mainland Europe it’s so much closer to travel (never before have I been able to do a day trip to Zürich).
  • The vast majority of people you will meet on Erasmus are in their third year of a four year course. People will ask why you are here. “Because I can” works well as a reply.
  • Germany is cold. Yes, this needed its own bullet point. Bring long-sleeved tops, hats, scarves, gloves, coats (and anything you can layer), else you will freeze.
  • On the other side, Germany is cheap. Or England is expensive (it’s definitely England that’s expensive). You’re saving on tuition fees, food and accommodation, which really adds up.
  • You will meet a lot of people from a lot of countries, and it’s amazing. I know that this is possible in Lancaster, but when you’re in a different country it’s so much easier. This being said, integrating with German people isn’t as easy as I thought it would be (but it does happen- clubs/sports are great for this).

I think that’s all my advice for now. I’ll pop some pictures from Zürich and the Rhine Falls underneath (because it was so pretty), and well… talk soon?


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