Top 6 Tips for Living Abroad as a Masters Student
Relocating to another country can be a hassle. Be it Paris, Barcelona, London or Zurich, most of your aches will revolve around accommodation and managing your budget while still being able to have some good fun. Unsure how to make it all happen?
Here are some essential tips to help you ease into your new home.
1. Be realistic about your budget (and stick to it)
Even the wealthy have to think about their spending habits, let alone students living abroad on a fixed budget. Chances are you will have a good idea of your monthly expenses before relocating. Knowing how much you have and how much you can afford to spend means that some of your options will be limited. However, those limitations do not mean that you will have a bad time, as long as you're realistic about your budget. Know how much you can spend and try not to go over that sum, no matter how big the temptation. Trust us, it will make your stay less frustrating if you adopt this mind-set.
2. Research the city well
Embracing your new city as your own will be the difference between feeling like a guest and feeling at home. And you definitely want to feel at home. Although most Master's programmes last for a year, you will enjoy your time much better if you cosy up to the faces of pedestrians and shopkeepers alike. Buy a cheap mobile plan with lots of Internet traffic included, switch it on, boot up Google Maps and start walking around. Even if you're only interested in the landmarks, after you've visited them all, you will have a much better idea of how to get around the city. Besides, you'll build affection toward it, which will make you want to explore more. Of course, it goes without saying that you must be familiar with things like public transportation and accommodation well ahead of your first day as a student there.
3. Befriend your classmates
There is a good chance that after a while, you will start feeling nostalgic about the things you left behind in your home country. But fret not, your international classmates are in the exact same position as you. Getting to know them will make your emotional state more stable and your experience more pleasurable. There are numerous other advantages to befriending your classmates, such as multicultural exposure, expanding your understanding of faraway countries, economies and peoples, and hardening yourself against situations that put you outside of your comfort zone. Which will happen a lot. Both during your Master's and once you begin your professional career. But hey, that's life. It's pretty good otherwise.
4. Get to know your neighbourhood
Seriously. This is important. It is the difference between paying a suspiciously large amount of money for a fancy dinner in an awkwardly empty restaurant and a few bucks for a kebab before heading home to read on that new author you just learned about in class. Let's face it – on most workdays, after several hours of lectures, you will want to just get it over with, and move onto bigger, better things, like studying (and by studying we mean watching an episode of your favourite series before reading a few pages of obligatory literature). It ties in well into the budget management idea, and also in how much fun you can have with some random people you just met at the local pub.
5. Don't be afraid to spend time alone
Learning to be self-sufficient is one of the best qualities that you can acquire as a student abroad. Sure, spending time with your house mates can be fun, but being comfortable with yourself in the library or just relaxing after classes alone in your room will teach you independence and self-reliability. Those are good qualities to have in today's world, no matter how you got them. Universal skills like self-motivation and independence are well-valued by employers, and you'll often find them listed in job ads, across most disciplines. Being self-sufficient is both at the start and end of meeting those requirements.
6. Be considerate (of the culture, but mostly of your housemates)
If your flight takes you any further than a couple of hundred kilometres away, you will have to cope with living in a country, which could feel very alien to you. Not in a bad way, though, just in a "things here are done differently" way. It is common sense to adapt your behaviour to the reality that you face, so don't try to be a rebel. Be tolerant and considerate of the local culture, and you'll appreciate it much more. Not to mention, learning a few outlandish cooking recipes at first hand. And one last thing, which arguably, most people learn this the hard way. If you haven't lived with house mates until now, you will have to adapt a lot of your habits to a type of co-habitation that requires dish-washing shifts and wearing earplugs at times far earlier than 11 pm. Don't piss off your house mates. Life's easier that way.
A Master's abroad is a once in a lifetime experience, but it's not everyone's cup of tea. You could still do an International Master's while enjoying the comfort of your home country. Check out our: 5 Reasons to do an International Masters in your Home Country