Going on a Year Studying Abroad is not easy #1

I am going to start writing a series of posts as I prepare to depart on my year abroad in Belgium. The posts are going to contain a lot of information about going abroad generally but also information about where I am staying and the sorts of things I get up to. I do hope it will be of help to those considering going abroad but also nostalgic for those who have studied abroad themselves.

First things first – going abroad is not easy or cheap. There are so many expenses you need to think about and you need to think ahead, for that matter. For instance, are you going to go by plane or train, perhaps by ferry or some other mode of transport?

I have had to complete various documents including an Erasmus grant application and a language competency test. I have also had to consider accommodation and I am very lucky to be staying with a kot a projet which is essentially a community of students who each have a project which they work on as an ensemble – I was actually really lucky to get this accommodation as they were initially full and I had to do a mini ‘interview’ sort of Skype session. They asked me about my background and why I wanted to stay with them for my Erasmus year abroad.

A part from documents and accommodation, I have had to think about money which… I still need to sort out. I have had to think about who will actually take me to get my train to Belgium. I have had to think about phones and how to contact family. There is probably more I need to think about but haven’t so far. Please do let me know if you are going abroad and the sorts of things you are sorting out or have on your list of things to sort out.

 

Today is significant for a few reasons…

Today I finished my last exam and therefore my second year at University and…it’s bittersweet. Of course, I am glad I do not have any more exams to revise for as in fact I was feeling drained and did not know how much longer I could last. Having said this, next year I will be going abroad to study for a year in a country I have never been to, whose language is not my mother tongue leaving most of my friends behind who will be graduating next year. This means that I will not be seeing most of them upon my return as they will have either moved back to their home countries or left the city I am currently into work elsewhere. Thus, today, reality struck. We’re all growing up, and time waits for nobody. I started my degree thinking University would be a long four years – I’m learning that years, months, minutes and seconds pass so fast we often do not realise. I want to take the opportunity then to reflect on the things I have achieved both academically and personally (though I will not mention them in this post, I simply want to internalise them). In comparison to my first yet, I have done a lot less and that’s simply because I want to focus on my studies.

What must be said about University is that you really cannot have it all – the social life, the grades, and sleep. You must choose two out of three if that. In fact, two might be stretching it because I felt in the last couple of weeks I’ve been lacking a full night’s rest. In principle, however, I’ve chosen the latter two but this sometimes makes me ponder whether I am missing out on the University experience; the sorts of things I will look back on, the memories, the laughs, the crying (happy tears, I mean) and the embarrassing moments and not forgetting the people I spent these moments with.

In reality, I do not feel I am able to state I have had such moments yet, nor can I definitively state the people I am likely to stay in contact with, bar a few of my friends. Undoubtedly, my experience at University is going to be different to the next person but it’s important I state this. Hear me out, despite the long held and often repeated idea that University is THE BE ALL AND END ALL, the place where you meet your friends for life, potentially your soul mate, this is sadly not always the reality. Undeniably, I have met some amazing people who I hope to stay in contact with in the future however these people are by no means in the two digit figure and they are also likely to be under 5 in number.

I appreciate this probably sounds a little unfortunate or sad, but I’m not sad at all, in fact, it’s rather therapeutic to realise this while I am still at University so it helps me to build better bonds with those i really care about. It may even incentivize me to make more of an effort!

Moving from the topic of University life altogether now, today is also signficant because wordpress reminded me that it was my three year anniversary today. Three years today, inspired by Maya Angelou’s life and literature, i started this blog. I do not regret to this day starting this blog. It has helped me to document my thoughts (you could say streams of consciousness – a bit like this post ay!), my creativity and my weirdness. However, what i do regret is my failure at keeping at it and posting much more frequently, than i do. I honestly do not have an excuse for it – this makes me sad. I’ve always been a writer. Always enjoyed putting pen to paper to write down my internal thoughts and thanks to a teacher that recommended blogging, this became the perfect platform, however i feel i am not using this platform to my advantage.

I am hoping to turn this around – I am focusing on me this summer and working both on reading and writing as often as I can, documenting the things that happen and the things that don’t. Here’s to creativity and inspiration .