7 tips for students moving away from home
Fri 19 Jul 2019
Moving away from home can be daunting, especially if you are in a new country for the first time. Whether you’re preparing to study in the UK, Europe or USA, it’s important to brush up on languages and learn more about the culture you’re about to step into. There are also lots of practical skills to know before you go.
Life as an international student is definitely a big learning curve, but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will shape your future. Here are some tips to help you out, and to make the most of your time abroad.
1. Plan your budget
When living away from home, you’ll be in charge of your own finances. It’s very important to know your budget before you arrive so you can avoid huge debts piling up. In addition to funding your course and paying for your student visa, you’ll need to account for living costs. This includes the following:
- Cost of accommodation
- Transport/travel passes
- Food and toiletries
- Socialising and going out
- Textbooks and supplies
- Healthcare and medicine
Remember that EU students can get free NHS treatment in the UK with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but non-EU students may have to take out private insurance. International student healthcare insurance is also essential in the USA, as there is no free healthcare system.
2. Join a club
If you want to make friends with like-minded people, join as many groups or societies as you can. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to socialise with students on your course, but clubs are the best way to widen your social circle.
When you’re living away from home for the first time, it’s important to build a support network. Your family aren’t there to advise you, so making meaningful connections with other people is key. Don’t be shy - most people are in the same position as you when they join a new club!
3. Practice your English
English is the second most widely spoken language worldwide, and when you study abroad, you’ll have a chance to practice your speech. English language courses can be extremely helpful, but the fastest way to learn is to talk to other people. By using your English skills in conversation every day, you will pick it up much quicker.
It’s also important to learn the local language when studying in Europe. Mastering language not only improves your communication, but it will enhance your studies.
4. Research your accommodation
Finding the right accommodation is vital when you’re studying abroad. Moving away from home means not having your creature comforts, so make sure the flat, shared house or student halls fit with your needs.
Staying on campus can give you access to a student community and a shorter commute to lectures. But there are other options that may be quieter, or in an area more suited to your lifestyle. You will also need to consider whether you want mixed or same sex accommodation, part-catered or self-catered, and private or shared bathrooms. Find the best accommodation options for our Foundation programmes in our useful ONCAMPUS accommodation guides.
5. Go out and enjoy the culture
There are so many ways to embrace the culture in your new town or city. Eating out and enjoying local foods can be an exciting discovery. And visiting museums and art galleries or attending theatre shows can be a great way of exploring what the city has to offer. But it’s also important to involve yourself in student life.
For instance , in the UK, students enjoy attending social events with their friends. These socials can often involve fancy dress costumes, and going to nightclubs and live music gigs. It can be fun to attend and will give you a chance to socialise, meet new people and discover your new home.
6. Make a note of the student support services
Most universities will have a student support committee. This is usually a team of people who are there to help with everything from administrative support, guidance and counselling to disability support and mental health. If you are struggling with your course or your living arrangements, or you’re dealing with the stress of being away from home, talking to someone can help.
Go to your university website for information. And don’t forget, you can ask your ONCAMPUS personal tutor for help as you settle into your foundation year. They should be able to provide you with contact numbers or email addresses for a range of support services.
7. Use free apps to call home
If the idea of moving away from home makes you feel anxious, plan to call home regularly. With today’s free smartphone apps, it shouldn’t cost you a penny. Some of the best apps for free calls and messaging include WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Tango, WeChat, Rebtel, Fring, ooVoo, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangout Dialer.
Are you planning to study abroad in the UK, Europe or USA? Talking to other students can be a great way of finding out what it’s like living as an international student in a different country. Take a look at the ONCAMPUS student testimonials to read about other people’s experiences. There are testimonials from students from all over the world, including Ukraine, Egypt, India, China, Mongolia, and beyond.
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