Find out what you need to know before you take a year out (Dreamstime)
Blog Words : I wish I'd known... | 21 November

5 things I’d wish I’d known before my year out

Whether you're studying overseas or taking an overdue sabbatical, author Nicola Beedle shares five things she wished she'd known before her year out

1. Avoid stopped bank cards

One day you’re shopping on Oxford Street, the next you’re trying to get cash out in a little Peruvian town – no wonder the banks block our cards. The best (and most obvious, but easily forgotten) way to avoid this is to tell your bank that you are going away.

It can be as simple as logging onto your online account before you leave and filling out a form. You can also give them a call or nip into a local branch. I know – yawn! – but it’s more than worth it when you’re not red-faced trying to pay your first bill.

2. See as much as possible

You have unlimited access for a whole year to a culture which is entirely new to you – could there be a better opportunity to really get under the skin of a country? In the tiny corner of Andalucia where I stayed, there was so much to see; from snow-capped mountains to mouth-watering tapas and jaw-dropping flamenco moves. The rest of Andalucia held so much more too, let alone the rest of the country.

Plan trips as often as possible with natives and get out there and see it all – don’t come back with regrets!

3. Don’t go home too much

It’s tempting to book the flight back as soon as you arrive (or even before that) but going home too much can really jeopardise your year out. By going home, you miss out on the awesome events happening around your town that all your new found friends are going to. What’s more, it’ll make you miss home even more because you’ll only get to see your friends for a couple of weeks at the most. It’s only a year, take advantage of this, stay as long as possible and experience it to the full.

4. Everyone makes friends

It’s something we all worry about. What if people don’t like me? What if I don’t make friends? What if I’m alone? There’s a simple answer to that: absolutely everyone makes friends – whether they want to or not. From natives to people from your home country to people from other parts of the world, the very essence of a year out is the people you will meet. For years to come you’ll remember the cascading waterfalls and the beautiful sunsets, but above all you’ll remember the beautiful, happy, weird and wonderful people you met along the way.

5. It’s the best year… ever!

Despite my worries, misgivings and down-right nervousness about speaking a foreign language to locals for the very first time, my year abroad was one of the best years of my life. Regardless of cost, place and culture, most people have a great time on their year out. Most wish they could do it all over again.

Had I known this, I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time worrying and would have just gone there safe in the knowledge that the year ahead of me was going to bring joy, laughter, amazing people and places, mind-boggling tapas and a whole heap of fun.

Surviving Your Year AbroadNicola Beedle, author of new book Surviving Your Year Abroad, is a former year abroad student and professional translator. The book covers a range of topics, including budgeting and coping financially, what to expect on day one, a step-by-step organisation guide and the essential ‘must dos’, ‘how tos’ and ‘what to dos’. The book is available in paperback and Kindle format online now.