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If your university degree includes a year abroad to work or study - perhaps with the Erasmus Programme - then you are in for quite an experience.

A year abroad can be many things. If you’re attending university and still living at home, it’s the year of freedom you’ve been craving; if you’re learning a language, it’s the exposure you’ll need to master that foreign tongue; and if you’re transferring for work experience, it could be your first taste of professional life in your chosen career.

Moving abroad is also daunting, though. You’ll likely be in unfamiliar surroundings, may not speak the language and not know anyone to help you settle in. To do that, you need to keep an open mind and be ready to step outside your comfort zone.

Here’s a guide to surviving taking the plunge, and getting the most out of your year abroad.

  1. Don’t live by yourself. Try to find accommodation with like-minded people (ideally other students), and start looking before you relocate.

  2. Join a club or society. A sports team, book club, language class – they can all help you settle in and make new friends. Searching for groups like these on Facebook can yield great results.

  3. Find the right balance between local friends and those of your own nationality. Locals will show you the coolest places to go and help you learn the language, while friends of your own nationality can help you to settle in and feel less homesick. But remember: spending too much time with people who speak your language is one of the biggest obstacles to learning a new one.

  4. If you’re learning a language, be brave in speaking it. You may make mistakes and confuse people, but locals will more often than not appreciate you making the effort. And if they try to speak your language back to you, answer in theirs!

  5. Have health insurance prepared in advance.

  6. Make sure you have money when you arrive. Locals may try and over-charge you for things, and a blocked bank account because you forgot to tell your bank you were moving can leave you feeling helpless.

  7. Know your student rights. You could be entitled to all sorts of discounts, from travel cards to consumer items to classes at the local university. Saving money this way means being able to spend more enjoying yourself.

  8. If you’re working, be professional. Your employment might be temporary and making the transition from student to employee can be difficult, but the standards you set now can help you greatly for life after university. Likewise, any bad habits you pick up can be hard to kick!

  9. Get to know your city. Don’t put off checking out what your city has to offer just because you might have a whole year to explore. Start your exploration early, because your year abroad will be over very soon!

  10. Make time to travel. Whether your destination has much to keep you occupied or not, don’t miss the opportunity to visit neighboring cities and countries. If you’re in mainland Europe, for example, you could potentially visit a dozen different countries, and might only need a long weekend to do so!

The skills you learn and the experiences you have on a year abroad can play a large part in how you grow up and develop as an adult post-university. Remember that living abroad is an opportunity many people get, so embrace it!

If you are relocating abroad, check out Crown Relocations' services for a moving quote.

Berlin is one of the most popular European cities for students studying abroad.

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