10 Things I Would Tell Someone Who Asked Me About Studying Abroad

My internship with Align Learn Do taught me a lot about how an L&D consultancy works.  Living abroad taught me even more.  Based on that, here are 10 things I would tell someone who asked me about studying abroad.

  1. Do some research before coming

It is important to familiarize yourself with the culture you’re heading into to understand better and respect it. For example, I wish I knew NOT to stand on the left side of the escalator before coming to London. Sure, it was a little embarrassing getting told to move, but it was even worse knowing I was getting in someone’s way or slowing them down which can make a big difference in a system like the Tube.

  1. Be outgoing, especially if you are a part of a program

It can be scary socializing, especially with people you’ve never met before, but that’s the best part! Going abroad gives you a great opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Don’t leave anyone out. I had the most fun when the most people were invited. It’s easy to form groups but try and get to know everyone even just a little bit.

  1. Book things in advance

Before coming to London, I was under the impression that I would be travelling to a new country every weekend hopping on cheap flights and trains. Unfortunately, now that it is the summer that did not happen mainly due to price and accessibility. Once you know your availability, I would recommend booking flights/trains if there are places you have your heart set on going to. Even small things that I wasn’t expecting to be booked out like this nice Indian restaurant or the Warner Bros Studio tour were all sold out when I arrived and didn’t get the chance to experience.

  1. Don’t be scared to ask

Whether this be for directions or a recommendation from a local, if you feel safe doing so, ask. It is not worth getting lost or missing out on an opportunity by not asking someone. I get it, strangers are scary let alone talking to one. However, a mindset that I kept that allowed me to comfortably approach people was ‘You will never see them again’.

  1. Write things down

My program planned multiple tours and visits within our schedule. I was wrong to think I could remember and retain what was being told to me. I would think about typing things out on my phone, but then worried it would come off disrespectful. I finally got a little notebook I now take with me and can remember the fun facts and pieces of advice I have sadly forgotten from others.

  1. Do the touristy stuff

If you are in a country for a while it might seem a little tacky to do the touristy stuff, but I still recommend doing them. Doing them early in your stay allows for the time to find more hidden gems that are also in your place of stay. I think I have seen Big Ben, which I now know is Elizabeth Tower, 7 times and I am still in awe of how beautiful it is every time. Plus, you might have the availability to see them on weekdays and can enjoy them without large weekend crowds.

  1. Change your scenery

I have never been a big city person and felt a little overwhelmed being in one day and night. Don’t get me wrong, London is amazing, but the UK is also just as amazing. Finding places an hour or two from where you are staying and spending the day there was the best way for me to spend a weekend. Taking a train for 2 hours to the beach made for the perfect getaway out of the city and made me appreciate my return.

+ Bonus tip! Take advice from locals! If you hear of a place to go or given a suggestion, I would trust that more than Google.

  1. It goes by fast

This probably comes as no surprise, but it is unbelievably true. I underestimated how short 6 weeks would be. Having to be in class or work from 9-5 on weekdays made it quite difficult to get in all of the travelling and touring I had hoped to do. Understanding your schedule and planning can help you fit in as much as possible. Take time for yourself and make sure you are healthy, but sometimes not holding yourself back is the best thing you can do.

  1. Pret Membership!

This membership has still been one of my favourite purchases on being abroad. 5 free drinks a day sounds too good to be true, but it’s true! I understand, that not every country will have Pret A Mangers, but try and find deals in your area. If you are going to be somewhere for a while, it might be nice to get a discount or reward by signing up for something as simple as a grocery card.

  1. Be here for you

This one has been hard for me because I struggle with FOMO, but do not let FOMO hold you back. Being alone can be scary so only do it if you’re comfortable, but don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. It’s not worth missing out on something you want to do if no one else wants to go. Just this past weekend, I went out to dinner alone for the first time in my life. It was different, but I finally got to go to a restaurant I had been dying to try and it felt great.

Thanks for reading!