Okay so this is going to sound ridiculous but stay with me…something I was not prepared for this year was the lead up to my Year Abroad. Obviously when I applied to Uni to do languages I knew that I would be going on a year abroad at some stage but it always seemed SO far away! Then last September came round and it felt like I had to start planning it right then. I’d gone from thinking it was forever away to feeling like I should start packing!
The planning and lead up itself was often draining and overwhelming: ‘Which country will you go to? What will you do? Where will you stay?’ I had no idea! I knew that I would sort everything out in time and my organisation would pay off so in that respect I was lucky, and to a certain extent, relaxed about the whole thing.
HOWEVER…what I definitely was not prepared for was the constant questions and worries from others: if I honestly had a pound for every time someone said ‘You’re braver than me!’ or ‘Are you sure thats the right way to go?’ I definitely wouldn’t be living in a 20m2 apartment here in Berlin.
The uni preparation meetings were obvious to say the least and often made me question more than I got answered.
I was the first of all my friends to go on our Year Abroad and actually this made me feel really pressured. 2 reasons: I didn’t want everyone, sat comfortably at home, to watch me fail…I know that sounds silly and pessimistic but I honestly felt like the Guinea pig! Secondly, I wanted my experience to be as smooth, exciting and fun as possible so I could ease the nerves of my friends and show them, in advance, how much of an amazing time they’d have!
The hardest part of the whole lead up for me was the day I left my uni house. I woke up that day (23rd June) with a really sick feeling in my stomach, I was so scared to leave everything i’d gotten used to and everything I had learned to adore about Sheffield and Uni life. I am lucky to have the best circle of people around me but I was terrified that we’d loose contact. Saying goodbye was awful and honestly there were some tears involved.
But once back to my family home I just felt ready to unpack and repack. I went into a worker-bee mode of getting documents together, packing, unpacking, repacking, and squashing more in my suitcase!
The night before I left for Berlin was so surreal. I hadn’t seen my mum since the day she’d brought me back from Sheffield because she’d been away with work and she arrived back at 12.30 am. I waited up for her and we chatted about her trip, then went to bed. At 3am we all then got up out of bed and headed, all rather bleary eyed, to the airport. That was it. My 23.8kg bag, cheekily filling its allowance of 23kg was checked in and so it was just me and my little bag left. My family gave me a big hug, but not too long in case anyone began to loose it and then I slipped through security until I couldn’t see them anymore.
When speaking to previous YA students, I never really heard them talk about the lead up of moving abroad. Honestly, I found it really hard and it was a complete rollercoaster of emotions.
Without being dramatic or cliché, if I could give anyone advice thats in the position I was i’d say 2 things:
- Be organised! Boring but sooo helpful! The more you do little and often will not only make the endless Erasmus paperwork seem less daunting, but it will actually help you get in the right head space and hopefully it wont be such a culture shock when you realise it’s 2 weeks before you fly!
- It’s okay to not be excited… Congrats if you can’t wait but for most people at some point there comes a time where you’re head is spinning and you just don’t really want to go that much. Whether its worry about what you’re leaving behind or about what’s to come, you’re not alone and it’s normal! Try to concentrate on the positive things and even before you go make plans for people to visit you or you to go and see them!