I have known I was going to embark on a year abroad as soon as I decided I wanted to study Spanish, which was a fair few years ago. However, this inevitable adventure is no longer blissfully out of sight (although nothing is ever out of mind in my world). I’m leaving next month.
Everyone talks about their life lessons/profound realisations/regrets during or after any travels, but I rarely see any reference to the anticipation beforehand. Still to this day I am reminded that the best part of any good thing is looking forward to it. At this point, everyone is stuck in an interval of their lives, looking into the unknown of moving to a different country, and none of us know what to expect.
One of the most important things to be aware of is that no year abroad experience has ever been the same. Comparison is unavoidable when all your course mates are having similar experiences, and issues like finding accommodation, admin, the culture shock and being completely submerged in the deep end can be generic. They cannot be limited to individual experiences, which can blur the line between a unique and common venture.
Now we’re in the intermission, the intermission which no one seems to talk about. You can only prepare so much, so the time is now spent watching dog documentaries and and discovering a new love of craft beer.
My main piece of advice to future travellers in this position is do not be afraid to reach out to people. Email your lecturers if you’re unsure about something, or even if it is to point you towards the person that you actually should have contacted. If you have an opportunity to talk to students, message them. Embrace the benefits of the internet and make connections if you can.
There are so many things that could go wrong, but there are also so many things that could go right.