5 things I wish I knew before starting my English Course abroad
Studying abroad to learn a new language is an adventurous and rewarding journey but it can sometimes be challenging. Getting used to the weather, the language and the lifestyle of a foreign country can be a lot to process.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure you have a head start when you arrive in your chosen country as an English language student.
Make friends from around the world
Feeling homesick is common at the beginning. When living in a foreign country, it may seem natural to want to socialise more and more with people from your home country. The best advice though, for language students, is to meet as many English speakers as you can, whether they be students or locals. Soon enough you will be chatting like a local and you will feel a lot more at home. Not only that but being part of a multicultural group can also help you later in your career.
If you have grown up in a non-English speaking country, it’s likely that most of the English content you watch and listen to will be from United States. It is therefore normal to feel unsure about understanding accents in certain regions. However, once you are hearing the same accent every day it simply becomes natural to your ears. One thing that has proven helpful is to listen to a podcast, radio station or watch movies from the country where you are planning to go to. This way you can start to familiarize yourself with the accent before you even arrive.
Have a clear set of goals
Having clear and realistic expectations will help you to stay focused during your studies. If your goal it is to get a certain score in your English test, like an IELTS or Cambridge exam, the best thing to do is to start the preparation as soon as possible. You can enrol in an exam preparation course or if you choose to study alone be sure to focus on the English skills covered by the test. Focusing on educational tasks will help you to keep a balance between work, studies and your life. Try to stay true to your personal goals and targets so you can achieve everything you wanted from your experience abroad.
When travelling abroad for a long period, it feels natural to want to pack all of your belongings for the trip. English Language students have found, however, that packing a smaller amount is more practical. With clothing for example, it is better to bring only the essential items that you want to bring. Cities like Dublin and London have a vast range of low budget options, from international chains like Primark to second-hand/vintage shops and swap clothes events. What’s more, you may want to update your wardrobe with new clothes to suit the weather of your new country – and you will have great opportunities to do so.
Part of being an international language student is participating in different social programmes organised by the school. If you are travelling overseas to study, then your sightseeing has only just begun! Being in another part of the world can provide the opportunity to visit places inside and outside your host country. Students from outside Europe, for example, are always amazed to discover that they can travel by bus or plane to another European city or country – and the tickets can be cheaper than a 2-course meal!