Let me tell you now, preparing to go abroad for the year abroad is one mean feat!
It is precisely one month and sixteen days till I am off to Graz, so I thought I would do a little post to update you on how things are progressing and how I am preparing for my big adventure!
Yesterday I think I made one of the biggest steps! I finally plucked up the courage to book my flight! (Again not an easy task!) And after trawling through hundreds of different combinations of flights and all sorts of weird and wonderful transport prospects, including possible overnight train journeys, I’ve finally gone for the flight option which will take me to Vienna first and then on to Graz from there! (As it unfortunately wasn’t possible to get a direct flight unless I paid some crazy through the roof price…typical!) I found that the best website to use for finding flights was http://www.skyskanner.net as you could compare loads of different companies. Also if you are looking at train services I found this RailEurope – Voyages website useful too: http://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en/I’ve also booked a night at a hotel at the airport the night before leaving, as the flight leaves fairly early in the morning, you can find lots of hotels near to the airport with cheap rooms if you book in advance (www.booking.com – best for comparing hotel prices) It will be nice to be know I am there, so there will be no stressing about being late etc. Saying that though, those of you who know me personally would probably say I was the type to say I was going to be late, even though I was at the gate hours before departure…
Accommodation has been somewhat of a kerfuffle, yet that is partly my fault for disregarding the recommendation of Erasmus housing, in my intrepid quest of determination to live with a native speaker of German in order to fully embrace the language, dialects and culture too. Which it has to be said is typical me, not going for the easy option! Though I have now hopefully secured myself a place in close proximity to the university and the town too, so fingers crossed that it all goes through fine in the next couple of weeks! Of course this is something I will keep you updated on about how that is all going as well, living with a native speaker and not picking the ”easy option”.
A few weeks ago we had to choose some courses that we were interested in, which will more than likely change a bit when I get there, but for the moment my choices are largely based on furthering some linguistics subjects. Some examples of courses I’m doing include Phonetics, World Languages, Speech Disorders with Aphasia, Linguistics of German and Psycho-linguistics. Some might ask why I am not doing more German orientated courses, but everything I do in these courses will be taught in German, as this is a compulsory element for us when choosing our courses. I don’t think there is any doubt that I will improve my language tenfold, but to give me a bit of a push when I first get there I’m also doing four week German course to hopefully get me up to speed a bit with the so-called ”classroom talk”, which will hopefully help when having lectures. (We shall see!)
I think that all the practical preparation and admin stuff regarding forms etc, I have done. Yet I guess the main thing now is just to prepare myself mentally. In a way that’s kind of more difficult. You can’t prepare yourself mentally by just filling in a few forms. Leaving behind a university life that has become the norm and being thrust into a new country and culture for a whole year, not going to lie, it is of course a daunting prospect! However there are many things that I have been and currently am doing to try and make sure the transition is as smooth as possible! Firstly I was incredibly fortunate in that through an intercultural project at uni, I was paired with a student of English at Graz Uni, and we have got to know each other really well over the year. Now that I am for definite off to Graz we have been speaking more and it is going to be great to meet up and to have a friendly and familiar face around! I know this isn’t always going to be possible, yet with social media today, I’m sure you could find someone there already or going there on a year abroad too. Secondly I have been reading about other experiences that people have had on their year abroad, which includes looking on youtube, twitter and facebook, the third year abroad website (www.thirdyearabroad.com) and other blogs too. I think it is good to find out about how other people got on with their year abroad, probably not just because it could give you ideas about what you want to do but also just to put you at ease and reassure you because many people have already done it and loved it so much already! I guess that is my main reason for setting up this blog; not just because I know a lot of friends and family will want to see what I get up to, but for others out there, fellow students, people thinking about a year abroad, future language students, or just anyone really who wants to have a good nose around!
Let me know if you have any questions or want any advice! I’ll be sure to keep you updated!
47 days to go – yikes!
– erasmus explorer –