by Meryl Hanmer
No matter how confident a person you are or how well prepared you feel, there will always be that niggling voice of doubt in the back of your mind, “what if it all goes horribly wrong?” Unfortunately, this is an inevitable feeling that almost everyone goes through. Personally, I went through an emotional rollercoaster in the build-up to my departure, one moment bursting with excitement and the next anxiety would surge through me. From worries about not making friends and homesickness to high expectation and handling the mountain of necessary paperwork, the whole prospect can seem more daunting than exciting but fortunately, from my experience I found more than a few ways to help settle my nerves and calm the anxiety.
Join Facebook groups
Nowadays, Facebook is everywhere and therefore it offers the perfect opportunity to pre-make friends before you arrive. By joining Erasmus/international student groups for your city you can meet like-minded people with whom you can establish a connection. Making friends before you go helps to alleviate that dreaded loneliness in your first few days/weeks before you meet other people.
Ask for help
At Swansea University, we are lucky with our GoGlobal team that they are forthcoming with both information and help when it comes to planning. They can assist you in knowing what documents you need to take with and what you need to prepare in advance.
Prepare your parents
Before I left for my year abroad I spent a great deal of time ‘preparing my parents’ for my departure by training them on social media. I set them up with a Facebook page, Skype account and email addresses. I found that doing this calmed both my nerves and theirs as it meant all my communication was now free and easy.
Manage your expectations
Embarking on a year abroad offers endless opportunities for cultural immersion, language improvement and diverse new friends. Everyone expects this year to be 100% perfect, but the truth is it simply won’t be. There will be plenty of moments of loneliness and homesickness, however this is completely normal and to be expected. I assure that for every one low moment, there will be ten more high moments.
Start as early as possible
Make the most of your summer holidays by using the time to settle into your new ‘home away from home’. Most people arrive only a week before they officially start their year abroad courses, but I can assure you that adjusting to a new city, culture and language takes longer than just seven days. Arriving as early as possible will give you the best chance at a comfortable and confident immersion.