Hello fellow or prospective semester abroad students! My name is Sophie and I am a second year at King’s studying a BA in History. I am currently on my semester abroad at the University of Melbourne and am loving every second, but the journey to this point was not always smooth.
In total honesty, the semester before I left for Australia brought unique challenges that I did not foresee. After speaking to other semester abroad students, I learned that many of us had similar experiences. We figured it out along the way, and were happy doing so, but a helping hand never hurts. Here are my five tips to guide you through.
- Manage your time effectively
As a semester abroad student, you may be required to adapt your module selection to facilitate your upcoming departure. For me, this meant dropping my full-year 30 credit modules for additional 15 credit ones. While harmless in theory, this necessary change can mean the synchronisation of your deadlines. As all humanities students will know, there is nothing more daunting than three essays due on the same day! With that in mind, start on your coursework EARLY. Not only will it safeguard your mental health, but it will allow you to enjoy what you’re doing as opposed to simply getting through it.
2. Try to find a job that works for you
It is true that studying abroad can be expensive. With flights, insurance and visas to be considered even before landing in your host country, a job (or two) is advisable. While finding a job that you enjoy isn’t always guaranteed, finding one which fits best with your lifestyle is possible. Are you a night time studier? Don’t like staying up late? Try a weekend retail job instead of late into the night bar shifts. Want flexibility? Try signing up to a catering agency or similar. A job can be tough to balance with studying and a social life, but it can also be a place to meet people and grow. Picking the right avenue to go down when finding one can help you make the most of it.
3. Be patient when looking for accommodation
With the official acceptance of students into a semester abroad programme occurring after results day, figuring out accommodation so close to September can be stressful. Whether you re-apply to halls or decide to live with friends, you will need to consider finding replacements for any full-year contracts when you leave. Alternatively, short-term contracts are often available on sites like Spareroom.com. For those choosing this option, have patience when looking at listings and be cautious. I personally found it helpful to rent a place near friends, so as not to feel too secluded. The beauty of the London retail market is that things will always come up.
4. Make Use of Support Available
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or anxious make use of support systems available. Reach out to those around you, whether this is your friends and family, KCL services or external sources. From personal tutors and Global Mobility advisors, to the Wellbeing and Counselling teams, support is never far away at King’s. Beyond the university, sites like Big White Wall can provide helpful online mental health communities and self-management advice.
5. Keep perspective
Finally, my last tip for survival is to keep perspective. The semester before you leave has its own challenges and call feel intense, but it is also a time to enjoy yourself! Spend time with your friends, visit all the places in London you’ve been meaning to see but never got around to, and get excited for the adventure that’s coming. It will be worth the challenges.