January 30, 2019, by Alina

Top Tips for your Year Abroad

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the third year of my degree in Paris – my favourite city in the world. However, it can be easy to look back on the whole experience through a rose-tinted lens so I’ve done some reflecting on things that I wish I had known before I left. Hopefully this will prevent you from making some of the similar mistakes that I did!

Working 9 to 5… What a way to make a living?

During your year abroad you’re likely to have the choice of studying at a partner University or working. I chose to work for the full year because I wanted to experience different working environments which would then help me decide what job to get into after university.  This is all great, however, I had no idea of the average intern wages which meant that I often struggled with rent! I was definitely held back financially for a while because although I was aware that I was living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, I had no idea that the average internship wage was only 554 euros a month! Wherever you end up going for your year abroad, make sure to do your research into how much money you could be earning – it might make the difference between choosing to study or to work and it can help you plan your finances in advance.

It’s a rich man’s world

This leads me on to my second point – accommodation! There are so many elements to this but the key things to remember are:

  1. Area – Are you familiar with the area you will be staying in? Try searching for reviews of the area on TripAdvisor (etc) to get the general feel of the place (or even better, try to visit it before you move in!). You don’t want to turn up with your suitcases and realise that you are too scared to leave the house when it’s dark because of the angsty teens on the street corner.
  2. Deposit – I nearly fainted when I found out that in Paris it is perfectly normal for a landlord to ask you for up to three times the amount of rent to be put down as  deposit before you even move in! As a naive student, I didn’t have that kind of money saved up, but, had I known that such ludicrous prices were common then perhaps it would have made moving to Paris a lot less stressful. Do your research of average prices and deposit prices in the area before you get there!
  3. Websites – Ask the university staff for advice on key websites to use to find your new accommodation. If you’re staying in a particularly rural area then chances are you won’t find much on airbnb! If you’re struggling to find out what websites the locals use to rent their accommodation, look out for travelling groups on Facebook,. There are so many out there and it can be a great way to get some insight into the culture before you dive in – although, do take the advice with a pinch of salt!

I need somebody (Help!) Not just anybody…

This point is probably the most frustrating for me because it’s so simple! Ask your other language friends for advice! This can be particularly useful if your friends attend a different university and have been given a certain heads up about which bank/mobile network provider to use, or even connections to certain internships who are looking to hire English speaking undergrads. After I returned from my year abroad (did I mention that I went on a year abroad?) I caught up with many coursemates and upon hearing what they had been up to, I felt like kicking myself for not asking them how they went about finding jobs/a place to live/any discounts I could have taken up on during my time there too. So make sure to keep in touch with any other students on their year abroad – especially if they’re going to the same country as you!

If you have any specific questions (especially about Paris) do let me know! 🙂

Posted in Alina