Guide and Tips for American students in Europe
So you have decided to move to Europe for a semester, maybe you are taking part in an internship and you want to start planning your time abroad. Moving abroad is one of the hardest things in life you will begin to notice almost everything is going to be different.
Let’s start with culture; every country has a unique way of living. Culture is an accumulation of different aspects of life in any particular country. Although you may have become accustomed to a certain way of living it is extremely beneficial to your growth as a person to learn more about other cultures. On your year abroad you are given a unique opportunity to live within another culture and this opportunity should be embraced.
Secondly the language; the chances are you will travel to a country that speaks a totally different language to your own. Although most countries have a percentage of people that speak English, it is advisable that you take some time to learn and speak the local dialect. Natives will accept you more willingly if they see that you know some expressions in their language and that you are interested in learning about their culture.
Norms and values vary depending on the country you are living in. Work schedules, the time you eat, the time you go out and many other things will be different from how it is at home. See it not as an inconvenience but as a chance to spend some time living a diverse way of life. Respect the cultural habits and norms in their society. Sometimes it will appear strange to you but don’t judge and remember you are a guest in their country.
Changing the place where you live is sometimes really inconvenient. But in most cases, it is an interesting experience. It is important to discover the local area you are living in so you can know where a grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, train, bus or subway station is.
Making new friends is an important part of traveling abroad. When you arrive find new friends not only from your country but from other walks of life, this will help distract you from thinking about home all the time. The biggest mistake is that you have too much contact with friends from your country and family. If you have a girlfriend or boyfriend try to reduce contact with them. It will be hard for you if you think about them all the time. Keep in mind that this experience will help build your character, increase self-confidence, improve your cooking and housecleaning abilities which you will use in your future life. The best thing is to relax, meet new people and to immerse oneself in a new culture.
Changing the food you used to eat can be a big problem. You are used to eating different types of food with different kind of spices and when you change your country of living every meal can be a surprise for your palate. Try to accept the taste of new cuisine and enjoy all the flavors.
It is really important that you make a good plan and that you take the necessary precautions. The first thing is choosing a destination which is going to be your hometown for the next 6 months or maybe more. It is essential that you make the right decision. There are a lot of countries in Europe with a rich culture like Spain, France, Germany, Italy, England and small countries like Croatia, San Marino, Andorra but therefore not less important.
When you have chosen a destination then it is time to do research on the city you will be staying in. Important things to know are language, culture and habits.
One of the most important things is planning your budget so you could estimate how much money you have to spend each month. It really depends on in which country you will stay and how much you think you will travel. Eastern European countries are not so developed and because of that, they are cheaper for food and accommodation.
Unfortunately, there is also some boring paperwork to attend to. You need to prepare all the documents, fill in all the forms and book a ticket to one of the European destinations. No matter how annoying this is going to be, keep in mind that you are doing this to prepare yourself for one of the most beautiful experiences in your life. You will make new friendships with people who come from all over the world, visit amazing European destinations, travel and feel the passion of culture and history.
Meeting European students at universities or during internships in companies all over Europe will make you open-minded, more tolerant and it will help you bridging language barriers. This will help you to explore new and interesting cultures, discover a new way of looking at a subject and grow as a person. Europe is completely different than the United States of America everything is going to be new for you and you will have an assimilation period which is between two and six weeks. European universities aren’t similar to American universities or colleges. In Europe, studying is cheap or free in most places. The classes are smaller and professors are more like mentors. The approach of the professors is different as they are using a one-on-one approach.
Once you have secured a place at a university, they will provide you with all the necessary information on what to expect when you arrive, including what will happen on your first day.
I hope this article has been helpful and just remember you are not on your own and even though it may seem like a big step, it may just be the best decision you ever made.