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Courtesy of Joanna Ford.

Interested in taking a year abroad?

This is for everyone planning their year abroad, or anticipating an upcoming adventure which will take them to unknown realms, in every way possible. Whether it is venturing to lands after, or simply getting your dissertation in on time. Change is on the horizon and you have every reason to be excited, although at present you may be terrified. This time last year, I did not think about my impending move to Germany (land of the sausage) too much. I pushed it to the back of my mind and was neither excited, nor scared. It was something I had to do as part of my course, and I was not too fussed about it. But you should be fussed. I was not bothered by the whole event until it was too late, meaning I did not take the unlimited chances I had to brag about what I was about to do with my life! With this in mind, I have written a list of ‘must do things’ for the months before you leave. Yes, there may be 7 or 8 months left to go in your home country, but that is no reason not to show off!

Must do Things:

1. Let the anticipation keep you awake at night and spend hours Googling the place you will soon be living in.
– Imagine yourself in that environment…
– “And here’s where I will buy ice cream on sunny days; and here’s where I’ll be all bohemian and hip and smoke French cigarettes and drink expensive coffee whilst pretending to write my diary (but actually just doodle pictures of cats); and here’s the bar I’ll call my local but never embarrass myself in…”. – This hobby is ideal for May, when you should be revising. Hours worth of procrastination!

2. Inform and astound everyone you meet with reports about how brave and proactive you are in doing this year abroad.
– “Yes, I do speak German. No, I do not want to be a teacher. Yes, I study the language for the sheer purpose of being a better and more interesting human. No, my parents are not German. Yes, I will be living alone. No, I do not know anyone in the area I am moving to.” – – Once you are there you will realise that there are lots of interesting and brave people in the world. So ‘pre-move’ is your only chance to make use of your current role of brave, intrepid traveller as yours and yours only.

3. Plan your time wisely.
– Use the summer to earn a ton of cash because it will evaporate into the magical money vortex before you can whisper ‘Guten Tag’.
– You are living abroad for a year so you do not want to be scrimping, saving and worrying about whether you can afford to go on that wicked trip to the Alps next weekend.
– Remember, when you are away you can upload one million photos to Facebook, and be the envy of all your friends at home. Photos require a certain amount of capital (unless you steal them from someone else’s travel blog and claim them as your own).

4. Remind everyone on a daily basis that, “this time next year…” you will be doing something that sounds WAY more fun than what you are all doing at that point. Make them realise they will miss you by pointing out that although this year’s Christmas preparations were really fun, next year you will be trolling round Christmas markets to the dulcet tones of German choir boys singing ‘Oh Tannenbaum’, off your rocker on too much Glühwein. This is guaranteed to tug at the heart-strings of every family member and close friend. 5. Unleash your inner, hidden hipster.
– In all honesty, what on earth could be more hip or arty than moving to another country?! All you have to do is look back in history to see that all the best arty types travelled to the Continent when life got too hard in old Blighty.
– Take inspiration; buy a beret or bowler hat, invest in a moleskin sketchbook or journal, and do not leave the house without a small volume of Romantic poetry. Just these items alone will up your art-output by 74%, and make you look 68% more interesting.

Take heart adventurers – your move will be revolutionary.

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I am an English Language Assistant, living and working in the obscure depths of South West Germany, for my Third Year Abroad. In my alternate life in Reading, I am an English Literature and German student, scraping passes and dodging the library. Moving to Germany has been the best decision of my life. From beer swigging revelry, to exploring the forest behind my house; befriending the locals; witnessing some of the most spectacular examples of natural beauty; negotiating the dodgy public transport system; spending the weekend in Berlin (then Munich, then Stuttgart, then Freiburg, then Dresden…); and waking up in somebody’s Grandparents house filled with rabbits in the middle of the Black Forest.

Every week has been an adventure and I can’t imagine what life would be like without the mayhem.

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About Joanna Ford

joannaford@live.co.uk'

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