Young woman traveling to an airport

September 10, 2021, by ulyrh1

Year Abroad Around the Corner… How To Manage Last Minute Preparation

By Rowena Harris, Student Blogger

After finishing my second year of university studying French and Spanish, I was looking forward to a summer of relaxing, going on holiday, and rewinding before the year ahead. However, with my year abroad around the corner, I have found myself facing a mountain of admin as the date of my flight to France approaches…

What am I preparing for?

Doing a degree in modern languages, it is compulsory to spend a year abroad. This allows you to improve your language skills while also gaining confidence as you immerse yourself in a new culture. So, in the coming academic year, I will be travelling across the channel to work as an English Language Assistant in a French primary school, organised through a scheme run by the British Council. With the countdown well underway until the date of my departure this September, this summer I have had a lot of practice managing my time effectively and staying motivated so that I feel prepared for the year ahead.

What are the most important steps to consider in the build-up to a year abroad?

Applying for a visa

Having been warned that the visa application process could be time-consuming and arduous, I made sure to fill in my visa application form early to secure my in-person appointment in London – for which there is often a long wait! As there are several documents you need for your appointments – such as proof of your placement and a valid passport – I found it was vital to allow myself plenty of time.

Finding accommodation

Finding a place to live in a foreign country can be a daunting prospect. But after listening to advice from the University of Nottingham’s year abroad team as well as doing my research, I decided to book an Airbnb for my first two weeks in France. This will allow me to get my bearings and go to viewings before finding more permanent accommodation. I would recommend this for any student moving abroad, so you can arrive in your country feeling confident and prepared. You also avoid the risk of falling for deceptive advertising and signing a contract on an apartment that is much smaller or much more run-down than it appeared online.

Getting insurance

Although health and travel insurance feel like a big expense, going abroad (especially given the current global situation regarding COVID-19) comes with many risks and it is always worth securing the right insurance to cover any possible accidents. I spent a lot of time researching and comparing my different options before settling on an insurance plan that would cover my needs – including any disruptions to my travels on account of COVID-19!

How do you manage all this admin and preparation?

Make a checklist
Before tackling anything, write a list of all the things you need to do. This helps organise everything in your head so you can systematically work through it step-by-step. Trust me, there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off each task as you complete them.

Don’t try and do everything at once
I began the summer feeling overwhelmed by the amount of admin necessary to work abroad. However, the key is to take one step at a time and remind yourself that you do have time to do everything!

Prioritise the important tasks

To avoid stressing over all this preparation, I focused on ticking off the most pressing and time-consuming tasks first, such as getting a visa and finding accommodation. This allowed me to relax and work through the other admin in a more calm and collected way.

Remind yourself what it’s all for
I would often find myself feeling overwhelmed as I juggled all this preparation. However, to combat any stress or anxiety and stay motivated, it’s important to remember that the preparation isn’t endless and that it will all be worth it in the end!


If you want to take some time out after your studies there are a range of opportunities, both in the UK and abroad. Most employers view taking a year out as a good thing as long as you can outline how the experience has benefited you and could benefit the employer. For more advice on taking a year out as a student, take a look at our webpage.

Posted in Careers AdviceStudent Bloggers