10 things to know on your first day of studying abroad
If you’re reading this while preparing for your next adventure abroad, or if you are already in a far-flung corner of the globe, keep in mind: it’s totally normal to feel a bit overwhelmed. We’ve all been there!
You’re embarking on the experience of a lifetime, and settling in is potentially one of the biggest challenges you will face. The first days of studying abroad will set the tone for the start of your experience, so here are a few useful tips for your first days in your brand new city. Buckle up, and read on!
1. Get a little sneak peek
Top tip: Download Campus Connect from any app store – it is how you will see your timetable, get important notices, and join all the fun activities your school planned for you.
If you move from one time zone to another, your body and mind will have some catching up to do. But remember: the jet lag will be temporary, you only need some time to adjust your inner clock. The first week in school is going to be one of the busiest, so rest up!
Top tip: Make sure you complete the test on the Campus Connect app before you arrive. You don’t want to do it on your very first day of school, especially if you have jet lag!
3. Get settled in
Make your new living space feel like home. It’s incredible what something as simple as unpacking and organizing your belongings can do to send those homesick feelings far away.
Top tip: Pick a few things that hold a sense of familiarity and coziness, but make sure you also leave plenty of room for new memories. You’re about to get a lot of them!
4. Explore, explore, explore
Even if you look like a total tourist going around with a map, there’s no better way to get familiar with your host city and campus than exploring it on foot. Seek out the most important buildings, explore your new neighborhood, head to museums and national parks.
Top tip: Mastering public transport in a new city abroad can be daunting. Luckily, most major cities have maps of their public transportation systems that you can download for free.
5. Ask away
Your first days in school will be busy, for sure. There will be lots of information to take in, too. But don’t worry: the EF team is there to help, so if you need something or don’t understand, just ask. And remember: there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Top tip: Here are some useful things to take with you when you go to school: a portable charger for your phone, a pen, a notebook, and a refillable water bottle.
6. Make mistakes
Do your very best to speak the language you are here to learn and don’t be afraid to make a few mistakes. Remember: everyone is in the same position as you are.
Top tip: Set your phone to the local language to pick up new words.
7. Say yes
Is time to let your inner extrovert shine. Be sociable, mix and mingle with other students in your program or housing, try to talk to as many new people as you can. If someone invites you for a coffee or to join them at the beach, go for it! Learning a new language is what you are here for, but it is those new friends that will make it truly special.
Top tip: You’ll meet people from lots of different cultures and you may even be meeting people from certain countries for the very first time. Remember to always be open-minded and respectful.
8. Keep in touch
It’s super important to make new connections, but it is also important that you nurture your relationships back home on a regular basis. Sharing your first impressions of your life abroad with the ones you love will help you feel less homesick.
Top tip: Buy a local sim card. All EF schools sell them, and they will have the best deals for you.
9. Do as the Romans do
You’re immersing yourself in a different culture, with its own history, lifestyle, etiquette. This is part of the fun of studying abroad! Interacting with more and more people will help you understand your new local culture.
Top tip: Embrace local history and learn to cherish the things you have in common with your host country by immersing yourself in local novels and movies.
10. It’s only the beginning
Take your time to get used to the differences. Don’t feel discouraged if your first days in school don’t go exactly as expected – in fact, they likely won’t. Keep in mind you have plenty of time to feel at home at your destination and make new friends for life. We can promise you that!