Studying abroad is an experience you won’t soon forget. Make it memorable for all the right reasons by being prepared. After all, there’s nothing quite like culture shock to bring on a bout of homesickness.

Here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about studying abroad!

1. Learn the language

Language will be your biggest barrier so try to pick up as much as you can before you leave.

Start with basic phrases like ‘thank you’, ‘please’ and ‘where is the ...?’ to get you by the first few weeks.

You’ll pick up the language very quickly when you have to use it every day, but a dictionary with words and phrases will always come in handy.

2. Blend in

Tourists are a target for pickpockets and scam artists. Avoid pulling out maps or using a guide book whilst in public, and be careful about carrying your rucksack on your back.

Act confident – even if you don’t feel it – by keeping a strong posture and walking with purpose.

If you get lost, don't panic - just pop into a cafe or shop and ask the staff for assistance. 

3. Check up on culture

Every country has its own rules of etiquette. Society is a lot more formal in France, for example.

Dressing smart, observing the polite way to greet new people and minding your P’s and Q’s is a sign of respect that is very important to the French.

Brush up on social etiquette before you leave to avoid any embarrassing or potentially offensive situations. This is particularly important if you are going to be studying somewhere in Africa or the Middle East.

4. Join a club

Most universities have societies for international students. It’s well worth joining one for the social events and company of fellow travellers. 

Here, you will meet lots of people and make new friends with those you have something in common with.

5. Look at societies and other clubs

You could also join a sports society or the performing arts group to make more friends and get to know the locals.

Shared interests are always a good starting point for breaking the ice, and you'll get to learn more about the country you are studying in.

6. Make friends

Getting to know the locals is the best way to find out more about your new city.

They’ll introduce you to their favourite restaurants, bars and clubs and they’ll tell you which tourist attractions are really worth a visit. Their local knowledge will be invaluable to you, too.

7. Be aware of card fees

You may incur unexpected fees if you use your credit and/or debit card abroad.

Check first with your bank. If this is the case, it may be worth setting up a local bank account when you reach your new city. 

MoneySavingExpert is a great place to find the best credit and debit cards to use overseas that won't cost you the earth.

8. Investigate cheap phone options

Mobile phones can also be expensive to use abroad, and you can end up incurring huge bills if you're not careful.

You can buy international SIM cards from your network provider or buy a phone when you get there to avoid any nasty surprises.

MoneySavingExpert has a good, in-depth guide to using your phone abroad as cheaply as possible,

9. Be flexible on travel times

Travel as much as you can on weekends and during school breaks, as it will cost less than week days when it's likely to be busy with commuters.

If you’re in continental Europe, you can jump on a train and travel across whole countries in just a few days. 

10. Enjoy yourself!

Feeling homesick is inevitable, but it will pass.

You’ll be home before you know it (and wishing you weren’t!) so enjoy your travels while you can.

Regular contact with friends and family will help you stay positive and Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime are all a miracle at times like this. 

Further information

For more tips and advice on studying abroad, please see: